Printed from

Supreme Court leans toward Starbucks in fight with NLRB

Posted On: Apr. 23, 2024 3:36 PM CST


(Reuters) — U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday signaled support for Starbucks in the coffee chain’s challenge to a judicial order requiring it to rehire seven employees at a Memphis cafe who were fired as they pursued unionization.

The justices heard arguments in the Seattle-based company's appeal of a lower court's approval of an injunction sought by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board ordering reinstatement of the workers. The case could make it harder to quickly halt labor practices challenged as unfair under federal law while the NLRB resolves complaints.

The dispute centers on the legal standard that federal courts must use to issue a preliminary injunction requested by the NLRB under the National Labor Relations Act. Such orders are intended as an interim tool to halt unfair labor practices while a case proceeds before the board.

Under that law's section 10(j), a court may grant an injunction if it is deemed “just and proper.”

Starbucks has argued that the judge who granted the injunction should have used a stringent four-factor test to weigh the bid for an injunction, as courts typically do in non-labor disputes.

Starbucks contends that if the lower courts had applied stricter criteria, this case would have come out differently.

About 400 Starbucks locations in the United States have unionized, involving more than 10,000 employees. Both sides at times have accused the other of unlawful or improper conduct.

Hundreds of complaints have been filed with the NLRB accusing Starbucks of unlawful labor practices such as firing union supporters, spying on workers and closing stores during labor campaigns.

The Supreme Court's ruling is expected by the end of June.