The New York Times is reporting that Starbucks has settled with the National Labor Relations Board an unfair labor practice claim filed by a former employee who alleged he was terminated for attempting to organize his coworkers to join the Industrial Workers of the World, aka "the Wobblies."
Under the terms of the settlement, Starbucks will post a notice in the employee’s store for 60 days informing workers they have a right to unionize under federal law. Starbucks will also remove from its files any reference to the employee’s firing and will repay him for any loss of earnings. (Starbucks had already voluntarily reinstated the employee before he filed his charge with the NLRB). For more about the Starbucks Workers’ Union (a branch of the IWW), click here.
This case is a reminder to employers that it is unlawful to discharge or take any other adverse action against an employee because of that employee’s support for or activities on behalf of a labor union. Just because the employee supports a union does not require you to give him or her special treatment, nor does it make them immune for discipline unrelated to their union activities; however, if you terminate a union organizer, you proceed at your own (substantial) risk.