The National Labor Relations Board filed a lawsuit against Starbucks on Friday over what the agency said was illegal layoff of seven employees in Memphis in retaliation for trying to join the union.
The labor council said the company fired workers in February because “they joined or witnessed the union and engaged in concerted activities and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities.”
The employees are part of a wave of Starbucks organization in which workers voted for the union in more than 20 stores and petitioned to vote in more than 200. The company has approximately 9,000 company-owned locations nationwide. .
Complaints are filed after a regional labor council office concludes that the charges against employers or trade unions are well founded and are being disputed before an administrative law judge. The regional office is seeking to require Starbucks to make the dismissed employees healthy, for example by reimbursing them for lost wages. The company could appeal an adverse decision to the National Labor Council in Washington.
“While we’re excited about the news, we knew from the moment each of us were fired that this would be the result,” Nikki Taylor, one of the fired workers, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the public learns the truth and is returning to work in our soon to be syndicated Starbucks.”
Starbucks did not comment immediately, but at the time claimed to have fired workers for violating safety and security policies, including allowing members of the media in the shop to conduct after-hours interviews and not to wear masks during the meeting.