Supreme Court Star­bucks case could grind down agency pow­ers

Supreme Court Starbucks case could grind down agency powers

The Supreme Court will hear argu­ments Tues­day over Starbucks‘s chal­lenge to an order requir­ing it to rehire fired union activists, giv­ing the jus­tices anoth­er shot at par­ing back agency pow­er.
Jus­tices will hear the case Star­bucks Corp v. McK­in­ney, which stems from the fir­ing of sev­en employ­ees in Mem­phis, Ten­nessee, in Feb­ru­ary 2022. Those ter­mi­nat­ed employ­ees have since become known as the “Mem­phis 7.”

FILE – Pro-union pins sit on a table dur­ing a watch par­ty for Star­bucks’ employ­ees union elec­tion, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buf­fa­lo, New York. (AP Photo/Joshua Bes­sex, File)

Star­bucks and the Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Board will appear before the nine-mem­ber high court to debate how fed­er­al courts should treat the agency’s request for a dis­trict court judge to order those employ­ees rein­stat­ed while their case pro­ceeds. A low­er court judge agreed, and the Mem­phis 7 returned to work in Sep­tem­ber 2022.
Star­bucks appealed a low­er court judge’s deci­sion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Cir­cuit, which affirmed the dis­trict court’s find­ings. Now the cof­fee giant is telling the high court that the 6th Cir­cuit erred because it applied a two-fac­tor test rather than a more strict four-fac­tor test.
The four-fac­tor test is essen­tial­ly a much more strin­gent way of con­sid­er­ing the like­li­hood that a par­ty seek­ing an injunc­tion for relief will suc­ceed on the mer­its. That test requires the con­sid­er­a­tion of the like­li­hood that the par­ty seek­ing the injunc­tion will ulti­mate­ly win, if the par­ty will suf­fer irrepara­ble harm with­out pre­lim­i­nary inter­ven­tion by the court, if the bal­ance of equi­ty tips in that party’s favor, and the gen­er­al public’s inter­est. 
The cof­fee com­pa­ny is essen­tial­ly ask­ing the jus­tices to “restore uni­for­mi­ty” under the Nation­al Labor Rela­tions Act, accord­ing to its brief to the nine jus­tices, say­ing the sim­ple two-fac­tor test is far too lenient. The NLRA includes a sec­tion that pro­vides plain­tiffs with the basis for seek­ing injunc­tions against employ­ers dur­ing ongo­ing labor dis­putes.
“Starbucks’s peti­tion essen­tial­ly asks SCOTUS to reject the notion that when the NLRB seeks a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion, the low­er court should give def­er­ence to th …