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A class action lawsuit against Starbucks is presently active across the United States after filing was completed last week. A former 59-year-old employee in Georgia was fired by surprise after he was rejected for a promotion that was instead given to a much younger person. He claims that he was qualified for the position but that the company’s age discrimination is to blame.
HR Morning reports on the filed claim, explaining that the company has been found to be biased toward young workers and that it shows a “blatant campaign of age discrimination in hiring.” This is likely due to Starbucks’ “Youth Recruitment Program.” The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) appears to have been violated because of Starbucks’ hiring preferences.
Additionally, it looks like this also violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and the Georgia Age Discrimination Act. “Over the last 5 or more years, Starbucks has engaged in a targeted, systematic scheme to eliminate and terminate as many of its older workers as possible and become younger in its staffed workforce,” the claimant explains.
The plaintiff also described Starbucks as having a history with discrimination during the hiring and employment processes. Apparently this is regarding both age and race, citing Starbucks’s need to settle with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over some of these allegations.
The alleged youth program planned on giving more work opportunities to young people, according to the company’s CEO. However, the lawsuit claims that the program has actually been set in motion to discriminate against employees over 40. The initial plaintiff says that this issue is systemic, especially in higher, more managerial positions.
The plaintiff eventually assembled a class of multiple employees over 40 who had also been denied promotions or had been fired in favor of younger employees. However, a Starbucks spokesperson, Jory Mendes, claims the company is upholding a clear anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy and that Starbucks has zero tolerance for unlawful discrimination in the hiring process.
Restaurant Dive explains that the youth program had the intent of reducing unemployment for young workers, according to an article written in 2015. Then-CEO Howard Schultz stood behind the program, and Starbucks was eventually joined by the likes of Microsoft, Taco Bell, and Walmart.
According to Law Street Media, the original plaintiff had been employed by Starbucks for 5 years before being terminated from his Store Manager position. Being fired was a surprise for him, as his last job review was “excellent” and he’d never been written up or disciplined. He also claims he didn’t get the opportunity to discuss the termination or a possible demotion as an alternative. It was his district manager who fired him, and that manager was under 40-years-old.
The district manager apparently accused the plaintiff of discrimination, though he counters that there wasn’t a “real” investigation into those allegations. Rather, the plaintiff claims that this was only an excuse to make the termination seem more legitimate.
Regardless, the plaintiff has been seeking class certification, as well as to be designated as class representative. In addition to wanting a favorable judgement, he’s also looking to put an injunction against Starbucks in order to keep them from participating in age discrimination further, eradication of any remaining effects from their misconduct, and a variety of damages.