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NLRB Administrative Law Judge Finds Starbucks Illegally Retaliated Against Two Philadelphia Baristas

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On June 21, 2021, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Andrew Gollin of the National Labor Relations Board found that Starbucks Coffee Company unlawfully retaliated against two Philadelphia baristas in response to their efforts to unionize the Seattle-based company. Beginning in July 2019, two employees led a campaign to improve working conditions at their store and organize a citywide union. The ALJ found that Starbucks closely monitored their public social media activity, attempted to gauge employees’ support for the employees’ efforts, and unlawfully spied on protected conversations one of the employees initiated with coworkers. Ultimately, Judge Gollin concluded, Starbucks retaliated against  the employees and discharged them in an attempt to quell the organizing drive.  

Judge Gollin ordered Starbucks to cease and desist from interfering with their workers’ rights to organize a union and to post a notice to employees notifying them of their rights to act collectively to improve their workplace. Additionally, Starbucks must offer reinstatement to the employees and make them whole for lost compensation.  

“Workers have a right to form unions and join together to collectively advocate for improvements to their compensation and working conditions,” said Region 4 Director Thomas Goonan. “I am glad that Judge Gollin agreed  that the employer violated their employees’ rights and issued appropriate remedies.”  

The case was litigated by Region 4 attorneys David Rodriguez and Nick Allen. 

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees, employers, and unions from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year. Region 4 serves areas in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware from its Regional Office in Philadelphia.