Starbucks is being sued by the city of New York over claims that it fired a barista and union organiser illegally.

The case, according to the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, is its first legal action for a breach of the “just cause” provisions for fast-food workers in New York City.

According to the lawsuit, Austin Locke, a longtime barista and union organiser, was let go less than a month after he and his coworkers decided to unionise a Starbucks in Queens. Numerous Starbucks shops, including this one, have approved unionisation.

According to the city’s lawsuit, Starbucks claimed that Locke was fired because he failed to complete a Covid-19 questionnaire and lied about having physical contact with a supervisor. Surveillance footage allegedly supported the errors, but according to the lawsuit, Locke’s district and store managers refused to provide him access to the footage. After having his shifts cancelled, Locke complained to the city a few days later.

A Starbucks official wrote to CNBC, “We do not comment on current litigation.” We do, however, plan to contest the purported transgressions of the New York City Just Cause Law.

Employees who have successfully completed a 30-day probationary period cannot be fired or have their hours reduced by more than 15% without cause or a valid business reason, according to the city’s Fair Workweek ordinance.

The city claims that until Locke gets his job back, it will continue to accrue back pay and compensation until it succeeds in getting Locke reinstated.

In a statement made public by the city, Austin Locke noted that “it’s been a year since the campaign with Starbucks Workers United began in a Starbucks in Buffalo, NY.” There are currently 235 unionised Starbucks locations around the nation. In punishment for union organising, Starbucks continues to wrongfully terminate pro-union workers countrywide.

In response to a nationwide wave of Starbucks stores unionising, organisers have accused the company of retaliation. In the midst of the labour movement, Howard Schultz returned to the organisation as interim CEO. He has stated that he plans to rethink the employee, customer, and retail experiences to better reflect how the world has evolved since the pandemic. On Thursday, the business named a new CEO.