The Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks continues to find itself in turmoil related to its workers’ rights when it comes to unions. On Sept. 2, New York City filed a lawsuit against the company after Starbucks fired a longtime barista who also happened to be a union organizer. The company fired Austin Locke in July, only a month after workers at his Queens store voted to unionize.
The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection filed the lawsuit on behalf of Locke who worked at Starbucks for six years. Officials noted that the case was the first in the city for violating protections under a law designed to protect fast-food workers.
In violation of Fair Workweek Law
Known as the Fair Workweek Law, the rule bars fast-food employers from laying off or firing workers and reducing their hours by more than 15% without just cause or legitimate business reasons.
In the lawsuit, the city seeks Locke’s reinstatement to his job, missed back pay and any civil penalties.
More than 200 stores have unions now
An increasing number of Starbucks locations have welcomed unions.
The tap for Starbucks’s unionization began with a trickle in December when a location in Buffalo was the first to unionize. That trickle has turned into a steady flow as more than 200 other Starbucks stores have since joined the union ranks.
Seek a strong legal advocate
If you find that you, too, have been illegally terminated by your employer due to union activities, seek a reliable and experienced legal advocate. You deserve fair wages, fair hours and a safe place to work. Do not let your employer attempt to take advantage of you.