The Supreme Court agreed Friday to listen A case filed by Starbucks challenging a federal judge’s order to reinstate seven employees who were fired at a store in Memphis amid a union drive there.

Starbucks argued that the criteria for such intervention by judges in labor cases, which may also include measures such as reopening closed stores, vary across regions of the country because federal appeals courts may adhere to different standards.

A regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, the company’s opponent in the case, argued that the apparent differences in judgment between appeals courts were semantic rather than substantive, and that a single, effective standard already existed nationwide. .

The labor board had urged the Supreme Court to stay out of the case, the outcome of which could affect union organizing across the country.

The agency is asking federal judges for temporary relief, such as reinstatement of laid-off workers, because litigating unfair labor practice charges can take years. The agency maintains that retaliation against workers can have a chilling effect on the organization in the meantime, even if the workers ultimately win their case.

In a statement Friday, Starbucks said, “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to consider our request to level the playing field for all American employers by ensuring that a single standard applies as federal district courts.”

The labor board declined to comment.

The union organizing campaign at Starbucks began in the Buffalo area in 2021 and quickly spread to other states. Workers United represents workers at more than 370 Starbucks stores, out of approximately 9,600 company-owned stores in the United States.

The labor board has issued dozens of complaints against the company based on hundreds of allegations of labor law violations, including threats and retaliation against workers seeking to unionize and failure to bargain in good faith. This week, the agency issued a complaint accusing the company of unilaterally changing work hours and schedules at unionized stores across the country.

The company denied violating labor law and said in a statement that it disputed the latest complaint and planned to “defend our legal business decisions” before a judge.

The case that brought the dispute to the Supreme Court involves seven workers who were fired in February 2022 after they let local journalists into a closed store for interviews. Starbucks said the incident violated company rules; Workers and the union said the company did not apply these rules to workers who did not participate in union organizing.

The labor board found merit in the workers’ accusations and filed a complaint two months later. A federal judge granted the labor board’s request for an order reinstating the workers in August, and a federal appeals court upheld the order.

“Starbucks is seeking bailout for its illegal fight against unions from Trump’s Supreme Court,” Workers United said in a statement Friday. “There is no question that Starbucks violated federal law by firing workers in Memphis for joining a union.”

Starbucks said it was critical for the Supreme Court to take up the case because the labor board was becoming more ambitious in asking judges to order remedies such as reinstating laid-off workers.

The labor board noted in its filing before the Supreme Court that it was filing fewer injunctions overall than in some recent years: Only 21 were authorized in 2022, compared to more than 35 in 2014 and 2015.

In principle, a Supreme Court decision could raise the bar for judges to issue reinstatement orders to workers, effectively limiting the labor board’s ability to obtain temporary relief for workers during a union drive.

The case is not the only recent challenge to the labor board’s authority. After the board issued a complaint accusing rocket company SpaceX of illegally firing eight employees for criticizing its CEO, Elon Musk, the company filed a lawsuit this month. arguing that the agency’s structure for resolving complaints is unconstitutional.

The company said in its lawsuit that the agency’s structure violated its right to a jury trial.

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