US Supreme Court sides with Starbucks amid unfair labor practices claim News
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US Supreme Court sides with Starbucks amid unfair labor practices claim

The US Supreme Court sided with Starbucks on Thursday by determining that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) needed to follow a four-part test to establish unfair labor practices and for the rehiring of unionized employees.

A group of six Starbucks employees unionized their Memphis store in 2022 and conducted interviews with local news, citing COVID-19 and other safety concerns. Starbucks launched an investigation, firing several of the employees. The employees then filed a claim of unfair labor practices with the NLRB, which successfully sought an injunction in federal court directing Starbucks to rehire the employees.

The courts were split on the legal doctrine under Section 10 (j) of the National Labor Relations Act regarding the enforcement of a preliminary injunction and the rehiring of the employees. Certain federal courts apply a two-part test for a preliminary injunction when “there is reasonable cause to believe that unfair labor practices have occurred” and  with the consideration of whether injunctive relief is “just and proper.”

Other federal courts apply the four-part test as stated by the logic in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council: “[that] he is likely to succeed on the merits, that he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, that the balance of equities tips in his favor, and that an injunction is in the public interest.”

The US Supreme Court stated that the two-part test is intended to provide “temporary injunctive relief” and not depart from the traditional principles. No specific instruction is given that Congress should depart from the injunction standard, stating that relief is provided for parties to remain in their positions until trial.

The US Supreme Court stated that the two-part test lowers the standard for a preliminary injunction because it requires the court to consider the NLRB’s view of the facts and law. The court held that the four-part test should be applied because it is the normal standard for preliminary injunctions.

In May 2024, Starbucks Workers United hosted a bargaining session in Atlanta to implement a contract for each single-store union.

Starbucks has not made a statement about the US Supreme Court ruling.