Starbucks accused by employees of threatening to withdraw transgender-affirming health benefits

At an Oklahoma location, where an employee named Neha Cremin works, the union claims that Starbucks threatened to take away the health benefits of transgender employees. 

Starbucks accused by employees of threatening to withdraw transgender-affirming health benefits
AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
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Starbucks managers have informed their workers that their transgender-inclusive health benefits could disappear if they choose to unionize, employees alleged in a complaint with the U.S. Labor Board, Bloomberg reported. 

The union, Workers United, which represents Starbucks employees intending to unionize accused the coffee company of “threatening employees with loss of benefits,” which includes the “loss of gender-affirming health care for transgender employees” for attempting to collectively bargain. 

At an Oklahoma location, where an employee named Neha Cremin works, the union claims that Starbucks threatened to take away the health benefits of transgender employees. 

“I think the company realizes that we as trans partners feel particularly vulnerable at this time,” said Cremin. “I think that in some cases they are willing to take advantage of that.” 

According to Cremin’s testimony, a manager allegedly told the employee, “You could gain, you could lose,” when negotiating benefits. 

“I know specifically, you have used the trans health-care benefits,” the manager allegedly threatened. 

According to the complaint, numerous incidents have occurred in other Starbucks outlets around the United States. 

The corporation disagrees with the report, stating that it is not “threatening our partners with the loss of benefits if they join a union,” according to a spokesperson who gave a statement to Bloomberg. “We take a great deal of pride in offering industry-leading benefits and have done so for more than 50 years.” 

The claim that Starbucks is threatening to take away the healthcare benefits of its transgender workers may have little basis in reality, especially on a nationwide scale, due to the fact that the company has been offering employees and their dependants reimbursements for having an abortion or a “gender-affirming” procedure if they have to travel more than 100 miles from their home, CNBC reported. 

The coffee chain joined the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and other corporations by offering to reimburse the travel costs of workers seeking an abortion or transgender surgery. The move came in response to the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court Ruling that would end Roe v. Wade. 

Starbucks’ commitment to progressive causes precedes the recent lawsuit. In 2019, a Christian woman filed a wrongful termination suit claiming she was fired because she refused to wear a Pride shirt, the Daily Wire reported.

According to the complaint at the time, the corporation's ethics and compliance helpline reached out to the employee about her request not to wear the shirt, at which point she stated that her religious beliefs prevented her from doing so. Her employment was terminated.

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