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Starbucks Ordered To Reinstate Seven Fired Memphis Workers

Coffee retail giant Starbucks (SBUX) has been ordered by a federal judge to reinstate seven employees at a Memphis store after finding that the company illegally fired them due to their union activities.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Judge Sheryl Lipman told Starbucks it had five days to reinstate the employees, known as the "Memphis Seven," whom the coffee chain said it fired on February 8 for previously violating its safety policies.

In June, the National Labor Relations Board's region director in Buffalo had asked the court to re-instate seven local Starbucks workers who were improperly fired over the course of six weeks.

"Today's federal court decision ordering Starbucks to reinstate the seven unlawfully fired Starbucks workers in Memphis is a crucial step in ensuring that these workers, and all Starbucks workers, can freely exercise their right to join together to improve their working conditions and form a union," NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo said in a statement.

"Starbucks, and other employers, should take note that the NLRB will continue to vigorously protect workers' right to organize without interference from their employer," she added.

Over 220 Starbucks cafes in the U.S. have voted to unionize, according to an NLRB tally as of Friday. An additional 34 elections have been ordered or are in progress, and seven more stores are waiting to schedule elections.

The union drive at Starbucks stores nationwide was trigged by a historic vote last December at a company location under the Workers United New York, a branch of the Service Employees International Union. As other locations have also unionized, the coffee giant has faced accusations of retaliating against and intimidating involved employees, which it has denied.

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