Starbucks has been sued by a group of South Carolina unionized employees.
They have allegedly accused them of abduction and assault, suspended them, and barred them from their US based stores.
According to the eight employees, the store manager “falsely reported to the police that the plaintiff workers had assaulted and kidnapped” her in August.
This was according to the lawsuit, which was filed on Monday, October 17.
The lawsuit claims that the Anderson Starbucks employees wrote a letter to the manager requesting a pay raise and the repair of broken equipment.
The staff followed the store manager to the exit and reiterated their demand for a pay raise, according to the lawsuit.
At that point, the store manager started to leave the building while making a cell phone call to the district manager.
According to the lawsuit, “they made no attempt to block the exit, and no employee physically touched her.”
The store manager is seen shoving past a worker in a video that Starbucks Workers United purportedly posted on TikTok to document the incident.
The staff weren’t letting her leave the store and the store manager complained to the district manager.
However, the lawsuit claims that the employees can be heard in the video asking the manager to leave.
According to the lawsuit, two days later the manager called the police and claimed.
That the employees had engaged in violent and unlawful behavior and “would not let her leave until they got a raise.”
It was also mentioned that the report listed the offenses as kidnapping and assault.
It was the store manager’s first day there, and according to a statement released at the time, she “felt threatened and unsafe as a result of conduct by 11 store partners.”
The employer claimed it launched an investigation, paid the employees’ suspensions, and reported the incident to law enforcement.
Starbucks said in the statement: “We fully respect our partners’ right to organize but no one, regardless of their interest in a union, is exempt from the standards we have always held – that everyone in our stores can expect to be treated with dignity and respect and work in a warm, welcoming, inclusive environment,”
Starbucks is accused of defaming the employees and “falsely insinuating” that they had committed crimes in the lawsuit.
The employees were suspended, and they were also forbidden from entering any Starbucks locations in the US.
According to the lawsuit, the police interrogated a significant number of the employees “over a period of weeks, causing the plaintiffs significant distress.”
However, after talking to staff and viewing the incident’s TikTok video, the Sheriff’s Office told The State in September that “none of the allegations were true.”
Need Career Advice? Get employment skills advice at all levels of your career
Despite the police’s assertion, the lawsuit claims that neither Starbucks nor the store manager has withdrawn their statements.
The lawsuit claims that “defendants defamed the workers and abused the legal process.”
The workers had approved unionization in an 18-0 vote in May. According to The State, employees at the store also held strikes in June and July.
Following the opening of the first corporate-owned US store in Buffalo, New York, in December, Starbucks Workers United reports that more than 235 locations have chosen to unionize.
Source: Business Insider