Yesterday, for the National Center for Public Policy Research, a longtime Starbucks shareholder, the American Civil Rights Project sued Starbucks’ officers and directors. That suit – NCPPR v. Schultz et al. – seeks both to bar those officers and directors from continuing to implement racially discriminatory policies and to hold them responsible for the harms those policies have done to shareholders.
This step follows the parties’ exchange of letters. In March, the ACR Project wrote the defendants and Starbucks demanding the immediate retraction of seven racially discriminatory policies. In July, the defendants responded that Starbucks’ directors had “determined that it is not in the best interest of Starbucks to accept the Demand and retract the Policies.”
That response compelled the ACR Project’s filing. The complaint argues that Starbucks’ policies violate applicable state and federal civil rights laws, creating material corporate liabilities. It asks the Court to grant Starbucks judgment for the damages already done and to enjoin the defendants from continuing to pursue the policies.
“Corporate America has embraced illegal, discriminatory policies that almost all Americans oppose because its decisionmakers get all the benefits while the costs are diffused across lots of unorganized shareholders,” said ACR Project Executive Director Dan Morenoff. “Courts need to change that by putting the decisionmakers on the hook for the harms they do.”
Washington co-counsel Joel Ard, of the Ard Law Group, added, “The people of Washington, many of them Starbucks shareholders, want and deserve better from their largest and most recognizable corporate citizens. I am confident that the courts will agree and take this chance to use long-established principles of American corporate law to halt, at the wholesale level, corporate America’s ‘woke’ embrace of illegal, racial discrimination.”
Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project Scott Shepard explained, “NCPPR is proud to stand up for the countless small shareholders who feel powerless to challenge Starbucks’ disregard for civil rights. It cannot be in the best interests of shareholders for Starbucks to violate a huge array of civil rights law by discriminating on the basis of race. Its officers and directors ought to be ashamed of themselves and must be held liable.”
You can read the full complaint, below.
The ACR Project’s previous demands to the Coca Cola Corporation and the Lowes Companies, Inc. ended in each abandoning its illegally discriminatory policy, without litigation.