Judge: Don't Like 'Woke' Starbucks? Invest Elsewhere

Ruling dismisses case brought by conservative group who'd sued over chain's diversity initiatives
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2023 8:44 AM CDT
Judge Rules for Starbucks in Diversity Brouhaha
A Starbucks sign is displayed above a store in Manhattan on June 13.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Starbucks has notched a win against a conservative group that tried to stymie its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. The Messenger reports that on Friday, Chief US District Judge Stanley Bastian dismissed a case against the coffee giant brought last August by the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy Research, which claimed that Starbucks' DEI policies, including one that pledged to bring BIPOC representation at the corporate level to at least 30% by 2025, amounted to racial discrimination.

"Starbucks, acting through its officers and directors, crafted and publicized these policies with fanfare, preening over the supposed moral virtue their adoption signaled," the NCPPR's complaint read, accusing the policies of "flagrantly [violating] a wide array of state and federal civil rights laws." The group, which holds about $6,000 in Starbucks shares, went on to cite the Civil Rights Act as one piece of legislation being breached. The suit came about after the nonprofit asked Starbucks to retract its DEI policies, which were launched in 2020, and the coffee chain refused.

In addition to boosting minority representation, the policies also tie executive pay to diversity and aim to award contracts to "diverse" advertisers and vendors, per Reuters. In his short two-page ruling on Friday, Bastian called NCPPR's claims frivolous. "If the plaintiff doesn't want to be invested in 'woke' corporate America, perhaps it should seek other investment opportunities rather than wasting this court's time," Bastian wrote in his decision. Starbucks, for its part, is pleased with the ruling, noting it's dedicated to "creating a culture of warmth and belonging." An NCPPR rep, meanwhile, calls the decision "surprising and disappointing." (More Starbucks stories.)

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