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Supreme Court Backs Starbucks In Labor Board Dispute

Starbucks cafe

​​The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Starbucks in a dispute with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), potentially making it harder for the agency to take action on behalf of workers dismissed during union drives. 

Justice Clarence Thomas said lower courts had been overly favorable to the NLRB when they ordered the reinstatement of seven Starbucks workers in Memphis involved in unionizing efforts. 

The employees claimed they were unlawfully fired for initiating the union drive.

However, Starbucks maintained the terminations were due to policy violations.

The case is part of a longstanding conflict between Starbucks and its employees who have been pushing to unionize. 

The Memphis workers, known as the "Memphis 7," began organizing in 2022.


They attracted national attention when they were fired shortly after inviting a news crew to the store to promote their union campaign. 

The NLRB filed a complaint against Starbucks for the dismissals.

It requested a federal judge to reinstate the workers while the case was under review. 

The judge agreed, and the decision was upheld by an appeals court.

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Justice Thomas criticized the legal standard used by the lower courts.

He suggested it provided excessive deference to the NLRB.

He added this made it nearly impossible for the board to lose under that standard. 

Case is part of a long-running conflict between Starbucks and its employees who have been pushing to unionize

The Supreme Court sent the case back for further proceedings, with seven other justices concurring fully with the ruling. 

This decision implies that the NLRB will face higher legal barriers to obtain injunctions requiring worker reinstatement in some jurisdictions.

A Starbucks spokesman said consistent federal standards are beneficial as they ensure employees understand their rights and establish uniform labor practices nationwide. 

The company is reportedly making progress in negotiations with unionized employees.

It aims to finalize labor agreements with represented stores this year.

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