Friday, March 21, 2008
One Order of "Pay Up" To Go
Of all the recent happenings over the years filed under the categories of Cool or Un-Cool, this one would definitely have to be filed under the latter.
Totally uncool, Starbucks! Yes, I'm talking to you. And now, the courts seem to agree.
And of course, I'm talking about the recent lawsuit filed by former Starbucks barista, Jou Chou, from La Jolla, California who complained shift supervisors were sharing in employee tips. Using the tip pool money of the lower paid baristas -- to pay your shift supervisors? Sorry...but I thought that was what your OWN rather deep pockets were for when it comes to paying your management employees. Um, hello?
So needless to say, I was overjoyed to hear that a Superior Court judge on Thursday ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay its California baristas more than $100 million in back tips and interest that the coffee chain paid to shift supervisors. Money that I'm sure took at least a few grocery items off the table at the time for many of these hardworking baristas -- and their families. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2004, gained ground in 2006 when it was granted class-action status, allowing the suit to go forward for as many as 100,000 former and current baristas in the coffee chain's California stores. It was not immediately clear how many current and former employees are affected by the ruling.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett also issued an injunction that prevents Starbucks' shift supervisors from sharing in future tips, saying state law prohibits managers and supervisors from sharing in employee gratuities.
But nevertheless, a Starbucks spokeswoman still maintained that the company planned an immediate appeal of this ruling, calling it "fundamentally unfair and beyond all common sense and reason."
Pull-eeze. (Or... was she actually referring to Starbucks' treatment of the baristas they routinely fleeced? Hmmm...maybe.)
In any case, I think Jou Chou summed it up concisely enough in a written statement released by attorneys this week:
"I feel vindicated," Chou said. "Tips really help those receiving the lowest wages. I think Starbucks should pay shift supervisors higher wages instead of taking money from the tip pool."
Or, as common sense and a little bit of common decency would certainly dictate.