America First Legal accuses Starbucks of 'racially discriminatory hiring practices' in civil rights complaint

AFL accuses of Starbucks board of failing to 'stop management’s racist employment practices.'

FIRST ON FOX: Conservative legal nonprofit America First Legal (AFL) filed a civil rights complaint against coffee giant Starbucks over its alleged "racially discriminatory hiring practices," FOX Business has learned.

FOX Business exclusively obtained AFL’s letters to both Starbucks and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regarding the coffee giant’s hiring practices and professional events held only for black, indiginous, and people of color (BIPOC) employees.

"The American people strongly believe and support policies to advance equality," AFL vice president and general counsel Gene Hamilton told FOX Business. "But big business, big government, and big education — having been hijacked by radicals and an entire cottage industry of consultants pushing for ‘equity’ — have all abandoned one of the core values at the heart of the American identity."



Stephen Miller's conservative legal nonprofit America First Legal asked for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate Starbucks, alleging discriminatory hiring practices. (Dylan Hollingsworth/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"So-called ‘equity’ is incompatible with equal rights and equal treatment under the law. This discriminatory action must end," Hamilton continued.

AFL president Stephen Miller said in a press release accusing the coffee giant of engaging in "racially discriminatory hiring practices" exclusively obtained by FOX Business, as "a trailblazing civil rights organization, America First Legal is leading the battle against woke corporate racism."

"Our Center for Legal Equality is filing a civil rights complaint against Starbucks for adopting an illegal system of racial quotas to exclude qualified applicants based solely on their race, an unambiguous and egregious violation of federal civil rights law," Miller said.

In the Monday complaint, AFL called on EEOC to investigate Starbucks’ alleged "illegal employment practices," pointing to the coffee company’s 2020 and 2022 trainings "limited to" BIPOC employees and its "program of racial balancing to achieve ‘BIPOC representation of at least 30% at all corporate levels and at least 40% at all retail andmanufacturing roles by 2025.’"

AFL said the trainings and program violated federal law and cited the company’s employment data, accusing Starbucks of potentially engaging in racially discriminatory hiring practices.

Starbucks Coffee logo seen in the center of Dublin on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Starbucks Coffee logo seen in the center of Dublin on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, in Dublin, Ireland. (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Also, as of January 11, 2022, the company’s self-reported employment data shows that 71% of all its employees are female and that its workforce is ‘48.2% BIPOC,’" the letter read. "This means that white employees, particularly white men, are statistically underrepresented in the company’s workforce, and potentially the subjects of invidious discrimination."

AFL argued that an investigation into Starbucks was "particularly appropriate" and that "there is ample reason to believe that the company has knowingly and intentionally violated federal law, and that it will continue to do so."

"The company’s employment practices, as described herein, are patently illegal. They are also deeply harmful. Discrimination based on immutable characteristics such as race, color, national origin, or sex ‘generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone,’" AFL wrote, quoting the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education.

AFL also sent a letter to the Starbucks board of directors "to highlight the mismanagement and inadequate internal controls that have resulted in the Company’s intentional and systematic violations of federal civil rights and non-discrimination laws."


Starbucks did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment. (iStock / iStock)

The conservative legal nonprofit pointed to Starbucks’ professional programs for BIPOC employees and saying that by "design, all of these programs limit, segregate, or classify employees in a way that deprives or tends to deprive white and Asian employees of employment opportunities because of their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, in clear violation of" federal law.

"Accordingly, the empirical evidence strongly suggests that management has infused the Company’s employment practices with an illegal racial double standard. The American Civil Rights Project’s allegation that management has committed the Company ‘to the flagrant, systematic violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (as amended at the current codification at 42 U.S.C. §1981), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), and a host of relevant state non-discrimination statutes’ appears to be manifestly true."

"Management’s public response to this allegation was an assertion that it is ‘not in [the Company’s] best interest’ to implement non-discriminatory hiring and promotion practices in compliance with our Nation’s civil rights laws. However, management’s position is legally unsupportable and morally indefensible."

AFL accused the Starbucks board of having failed to do their fiduciary duty to shareholders "and stop management’s racist employment practices."


"Consequently, the Company faces a shareholder derivative action and a heightened risk of expensive and damaging regulatory and Congressional investigations and action," AFL wrote while calling on Starbucks to take several steps to address their concerns.

Neither Starbucks nor EEOC immediately responded to FOX Business’ requests for comment.