Starbucks Employees Allegedly Kidnap Boss to Demand Raise
A group of disgruntled Starbucks employees seeking a raise and benefits are now being accused of kidnapping.
The incident, which took place Aug. 1, marked the first day manager Melissa Morris took over the Starbucks location in Anderson, S.C.
Morris was entering a volatile situation after many Starbucks employees across the nation felt overworked, underpaid and undervalued.
Morris' new store was no different.
"We were tired of how management was treating us, not listening to our complaints," Aneil Tripathi, 19, told The Daily Beast. "They haven't stepped a foot on the floor. They probably never made a drink in their life. And they're telling us how to do our jobs."
Tripathi called the store understaffed, saying "three people were doing the work of six."
Tripathi claimed when he reached out to management for help, his former manager told him, "I can't do much."
Tripathi also said he emailed Starbucks Workers United, an independent union that organizes workers across the country.
The union campaign urged the store to take a unanimous vote on participation. After 18 employees voted in favor of participating, they began wearing pro-union t-shirts during their shifts.
Starbucks management then allegedly began cutting the store's hours.
To retaliate, the coffee company reportedly offered a new benefits package only available to non-union employees.
"Our store was very frustrated," Tripathi told The Daily Beast.
The baristas planned to confront their store manager and began organizing a "Match on the Boss" event. However, their former manager suddenly quit.
When Morris arrived, the workers gathered around her and read their request letter aloud.
"We won't move until action is taken for our raise. There will be no floor work and no customer service," an employee allegedly told Morris in audio leaked on Twitter.
"We carried this company on our shoulders through the pandemic, putting our health and the lives of loved ones at risk, and we have nothing to look forward to," another employee could be heard saying on the recording.
"We weren't threatening," Tripathi claimed, adding, "We were quite a distance from her."
Morris then called the district manager and walked toward the door, which Tripathi claimed was unlocked, sharing, "No one blocked the door."
According to audio of the incident, the entire interaction lasted about six minutes.
On Aug. 3, Morris filed a report with the Anderson County Sheriff's Office claiming the employees kidnapped her at the store and "wouldn't let her leave until they got a raise."
Morris also told police that an employee attacked her.
On Aug. 6, Tripathi and 10 other employees were suspended due to the allegations.
The store manager "felt threatened and unsafe as a result of the behavior of 11 store partners," Starbucks said in a statement, adding they were advised by law enforcement to suspend employees "until their investigation is completed."
"They want to make an example of us," Tripathi, who sees the suspension as direct retaliation, shared.
The Anderson County Sherriff's Office is still investigating the case. It's unclear whether or not charges will be filed.