Despite the company’s efforts, several Starbucks locations have recently voted to unionize. Those in favor of the unions claim they are seeking higher pay, better hours, and increased worker protections, among other things.
As news of these unionizations spreads through the media, ex-employees are chiming in on social media to share their Starbucks stories.
Posting on TikTok under the hashtag #union, an alleged former Starbucks employee is now claiming they lost their job after reporting workplace discrimination. They say they are unhoused.
“Faces discrimination then reports to [store manager] and ethics and compliance,” user Iris (@sailorzooted) wrote in the text overlay of their video. This act led to them “get[ting] hours cut to 5/wk and fired by [store manager].”
In the description, Iris added, “I’ve been homeless and out a job since February and have received ZERO HELP!”
Iris’ video was posted on Wednesday and has been viewed 5,000 times.
In comments, many claimed that, if Iris’ story is true, they have a wrongful termination lawsuit on their hands.
“Press charges,” one user urged.
“Depending on where you live, most work places cannot retaliate and you can sue for them firing you for speaking up,” another claimed.
However, Iris is located in Texas. Texas is an “at-will” employment state, which means that an “employee may be terminated for any reason or for no reason at all, as long as the reason is not illegal or unlawful,” according to LegalMatch.
While this firing someone for reporting discrimination may count as an “illegal or unlawful” reason, in practice, “proving wrongful termination may be difficult,” LegalMatch reported.
Many commenters were unsurprised by Iris’ video.
“Lmao I knew it was Starbucks right away,” one user stated. “Why they like this… they wanna keep the shitty [people]?”
“It’s always starbucks,” another said.
Update 8:06am CT, April 19: Starbucks told the Daily Dot that Iris was terminated due to multiple, documented policy violations, such as time in attendance and dress code violations. It is the company policy to terminate partners who violate policies on multiple occasions.
Update 2:35pm CT, April 14: The Daily Dot confirmed Iris was a Starbucks employee at a location in Schertz, Texas.
They told the Daily Dot they were once cited for a dress code violation for wearing Timberland boots and a brown skirt. Iris said they referred their shift lead to the Starbucks dress code, which reportedly allows brown skirts so long as they are more than 4 inches above the knee and leather footwear that “covers the top of the foot with a closed heel and toe.”
Iris said the shift lead said that they would have to verify the claim with the store manager but, instead, spoke about with another shift lead. Iris said the second shift lead told them they “did not fit the Starbucks aesthetic.”
Iris said the first shift lead then told them to go work the floor, only for them to be stopped a few minutes later and told to go home.
Iris said other employees told them they had also been cited for dress code violations in the past but that they were not sent home like Iris was.
The only difference, Iris said, is that the employees are white. Iris said they brought this up to their manager, who told them they would handle it. Iris said that after two or three weeks, the two discussed the incident, at which point the manager said they had taken the “appropriate actions” in resolving the issue.
Iris said that they questioned whether this meant the shift lead had gone to Ethics and Compliance and was told that they didn’t.
Iris said they pushed for an investigation, which was eventually allegedly started. But after a while, according to Iris, they were told by their manager that the investigation was over and that appropriate action had been taken.
Iris said Ethics and Compliance continued to contact them about the incident after the investigation allegedly concluded.
Iris said the manager also asked them for a written statement, something the manager allegedly claimed was requested by Ethics and Compliance. Iris said Ethics and Compliance told her it never made such a request.
Iris said their hours were then cut down, with management eventually allegedly cutting their hours to only five per week.
Iris said they were also suddenly hit with multiple apparent violations of Starbucks policy. Iris said they were cited for failing to remove a wristwatch after returning to their shift, something they hadn’t noticed as they weren’t handling food. (“Obviously if I was handling food, I would’ve taken it off,” Iris told the Daily Dot.)
They say they were also cited for violating COVID protocol after walking past the COVID check in because they had their hands full. They told the Daily Dot they were planning to set down their things and return to check in.
While Iris admitted to the Daily Dot that these were violations, they explained that for most employees, violations like these had not historically ended in write-ups.
“I really did not want to think this was a race issue, but the clues are all fucking there,” Iris told the Daily Dot.
These issues in aggregate led Iris to be fired, Iris said.
“It really sucks, because I’ve been homeless since freakin’ February,” Iris told the Daily Dot. They said they originally took the job for the benefits and that Starbucks managers and employees were aware they were near homelessness throughout their employment. They said they were fired on March 14, and by that time, they were already unhoused.
Additionally, Iris said called the claim they violated COVID comical given they were allegedly exposed to COVID on the job and were never told about it.
“Management is supposed to tell me that I got exposed. They don’t gotta tell me who,” Iris said. “Management failed to tell me, and then I actually did end up testing positive for COVID… I was feeling symptomatic, then the store manager was like, ‘oh yeah you were exposed on the shift.’”
They said they still had symptoms after five days, but they claim their store manager told them to return to work anyway. According to Starbucks’ blog on its response to COVID, “Partners exposed to COVID-19 will also receive self-isolation pay through April 4, 2022.” Iris said they were never given this payment.
“I really think Starbucks needs to address shit like this, because this is really not OK, especially toward an employee who’s homeless,” Iris said.
Starbucks did not immediately respond to Daily Dot’s request for comment via email.
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