NYC sues Starbucks for ‘unfair dismissal’ of union store worker
The Department of Consumer and Labor Protection said Friday that New York City is suing Starbucks for the “unlawful termination” of a barista who worked at an Astoria store who had just voted to join a union.
Austin Locke, who has worked at Starbucks for the past six years, was frozen July 5 — a month after the store’s employees voted in favor of the union.
Locke filed a complaint with the DCWP, which found that Starbucks had retaliated against him for his organizational activities.
Starbucks alleged that it fired him for failing to complete a COVID-19 questionnaire and for falsely reporting that a supervisor had “put a hand” on Locke’s chest to prevent him from entering the room, according to the complaint filed Thursday with the office. of administrative trials and hearings.
“DCWP stands ready to fight for the dignity and respect that all employers deserve,” DCWP Commissioner Velda Vera Mayoga said in a statement. “To all of New York City’s fast food workers, if you believe you have been unlawfully fired from your workplace, please feel free to contact us.”
The agency is calling on Starbucks to return Locke his job, return his wages and other compensation for the lost work. It orders the Java giant to pay civil fines for violating the city’s Fair Work Week law.
“We do not comment on pending litigation. However, we intend to defend against alleged violations of the New York City Fair Act,” Starbucks said in a statement.
The complaint marks the city’s first legal action under the Just Cause Act of July 2021, which prevents fast food restaurants from firing workers without a “just cause.”
Over the past year, 235 Starbucks stores have been united into unions.
The company has been fighting this campaign and recently accused the National Labor Relations Board of inappropriate bias towards the union.