Starbucks Was Just Sued For Alleging These Employees Are Kidnappers

Being an employee at Starbucks shouldn't be too challenging. You put on a green apron, smile, and misspell someone's name on a cup. It shouldn't make your life harder, and certainly shouldn't involve loads of scandal. Yet Starbucks has had a number of issues when it comes to workers, both good and bad. For instance, USA Today rates Starbucks as one of the best places to work, if you live in Seattle. CNN Money calls it the 73rd best place to work, citing stock options and full insurance benefits for part-time employees as major enticement points for the coffee retailer.

Unfortunately, working at Starbucks isn't all laughter and lattes. More than a few employees have complained about the establishment online. For example, one former Starbucks employee commented on Reddit that the restaurant's management produces a poor work environment. However, the complaints didn't stop there. "Low wages, awful hours or no hours, customers belittling you 24/7," u/VoidOfSoul wrote, "10/10 would NOT recommend after working there for two years in two different stores."

There now might be yet another thing wrong with Starbucks, beyond poor pay, insufficient hours, and rude customers. Being a Starbucks "partner" — which is what Insider says Starbucks calls its employees — might also get you embroiled in a lawsuit.

Starbucks workers in South Carolina unionize, end up accused of heinous crimes

According to Reuters, the workers at a Starbucks store in Anderson, South Carolina, voted unanimously to unionize in June. On August 1, the newly formed union drafted a letter requesting an increase in wages from the manager. The manager claimed that after she was given the letter, the employees prevented her from leaving the store. She later reported the incident to the police department, which launched an investigation. 

Though the local sheriff eventually declared there was no evidence of wrongdoing found on the part of the employees, Starbucks released a statement that the store manager "felt threatened and unsafe" as a result of the other employees' actions. In response, eight Starbucks employees referenced in the statement are now suing Starbucks for defamation. 

Aneil Tripathi, one of three employees fired shortly after the incident, didn't hold back when commenting on the pending lawsuit. "Starbucks knew exactly what they were doing when it smeared our reputation, painting us as criminals," Tripathi said (via Fox Carolina).

Notably, some employees are accusing Starbucks of union busting, claims the coffee megachain has faced before. In fact, this particular Starbucks has already been a hotbed of activity, with the unionized workers organizing strikes and walk-outs, according to an interview done with Tripathi for Labor Notes. He alleges anti-union behavior on the part of the coffee giant, even though Starbucks' official stance is, "No Starbucks partner has been or will be disciplined for supporting or engaging in lawful union activity."

As this story unfolds, it could impact future Starbucks employees' efforts to unionize, as well as the trustworthiness of the company to potential workers.