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Starbucks is in a lawsuit for alleged ageism practices and culture

(BUSINESS) How Starbucks got itself in a lawsuit alleging ageism practices and why it’s important to review your own hiring and retention practices.


On November 29th, a nationwide class-action lawsuit was filed against Starbucks Corporation alleging age discrimination in its recruiting practices. The lawsuit alleges that “Starbucks’ culture and practices [was] systemically favoring applicants at the expense of their older counterparts.” The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, which means that any outcome could have nationwide implications.

Details of the lawsuit

The lawsuit goes into detail about Starbucks’ practices concerning older workers over 40, alleging discrimination under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) and The Georgia Age Discrimination Act

  • Starbucks engaged in a “scheme” to terminate as many of its older workers as possible.
  • The youth recruitment program, a program that claims to increase opportunities for younger people, is simply an excuse to discriminate against workers over 40.
  • The suit alleges that older employees were not really considered for management positions.
  • Starbucks does not offer older workers “the same progressive disciplinary policies” as younger employees are eligible for.

This lawsuit is in its early stages. It’s still just an accusation of age discrimination, but it will be expensive for Starbucks to fight. Restaurant Dive reports “A Starbucks spokesperson, Jory Mendes, said the company maintains a clear anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy and has zero tolerance for unlawful discrimination in hiring or employment practices.”

Pay attention to your own recruiting practices

This lawsuit should give businesses pause to examine how they reach out to job seekers. Recruiting solely on campuses or through social media could be considered age discrimination, as you might be excluding older workers. Age discrimination can go beyond simply firing older workers. It’s any practice that has a disparate impact on workers over 40. Be mindful of where you’re placing ads and what language you use. Focus on the job details, not on a youthful workforce.

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We’ll be watching this lawsuit to see how it plays out in court.

Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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