Starbucks Corporation violated federal law by firing pro-union employees in Kansas and Missouri.

In response to union organizing and police requests, the company increased the enforcement of its dress code.

A National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge ruled Wednesday, October 12 that this was done to disperse workers holding picket signs.

READ MORE: STARBUCKS WILL REHIRE SEVEN PRO-UNION WORKERS IT FIRED IN FEBRUARY

The agency judge’s decision requires Starbucks to reinstate four employees with back pay and to stop making anti-union threats.

It also states that Starbucks must post a notice informing employees that the government determined it violated the law and promising not to do so again.

Starbucks said Wednesday, October 12, that the terminated employees violated numerous company policies. “Interest in a union does not exempt partners from following policies that are in place to protect our partners, our customers and the communities we serve,” spokesperson Andrew Trull said in an emailed statement.

READ MORE: ALBUQUERQUE STARBUCKS STAFF VOTE TO BECOME THE FIRST IN NEW MEXICO TO UNIONIZE

The judge concluded from the evidence that Starbucks management had “substantial animus” toward union-supporting workers.

Another labor board judge in Michigan issued an order last week requiring the business to grant a fired employee’s request for reinstatement.

“It feels like we’re going to start seeing cases similar to ours win all over the country now,” Alydia Claypool, one of the Kansas workers the judge found was wrongly fired, said in an interview Wednesday.

READ MORE: STARBUCKS TO CLOSE NEW ORLEANS STORE OVER SAFETY CONCERNS

Claypool expressed her hope that the decision would alleviate her coworkers’ concerns about retaliation.

Orders of NLRB judges may be challenged before labor board members in Washington and federal court after that.

Numerous pending complaints have been filed against Starbucks nationwide by the agency’s general counsel alleging worker rights violations.

Starbucks Workers United, the union, has filed labor board complaints charging the business with firing more than 80 workers due to their activism.

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The NLRB can order policies to be changed and the reinstatement of employees, but it cannot levy punitive damages against businesses.

Following a groundbreaking victory in Buffalo, New York, last December, the union has won elections at about 250 of the chain’s 9,000 corporately owned US stores over the past year.

Source: Bloomberg

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