The lawsuit was brought by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which owns shares in companies like Starbucks so as to interact with them about their left-leaning policies and try to bring them back to center.
"Starbucks, along with quite a number of other companies, in its embrace of equity, has dived fully into discriminating particularly on the basis of race and ethnicity in ways that are just patently illegal," reports Scott Shepard, director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project, the conservative movement's only full-service shareholder activism and education program.
"What they have done is to set up a dashboard so that executives and managers can see the race and ethnicity of each of their employees and then establish targets of 30% at the management level and 40% of non-management employees that need to be racially or ethnically diverse," Shepard continues. "They're calling those targets and goals, but then they've tied compensation for executives to whether or not they are moving toward and meeting those – air quote – 'goals.'"
His communications and research foundation, which is dedicated to providing free market solutions to today's public policy problems, views this as a quota system.
"They have set up explicit incentives to take into account race and ethnicity in making hiring and promotion decisions," Shepard explains. "It's illegal, and it's just wrong. All racism is racism, and all racism is wrong, and Starbucks is an avowedly racist organization now."
The defendants will have a certain period of time to respond to the complaint, and then the National Center expects there to be "all sorts of motions."
"We are suing the directors and executives personally, not Starbucks as a corporation, because of course we are shareholders of Starbucks, and it does not do any good to take shareholder money to make up for the illegality of these bad actor executives," Shepard tells AFN. "Some of them might try to get themselves personally removed. We will have motions to dismiss; we will have motions for summary judgment [and] evidentiary proceedings. So, this will probably take quite a while."
AFN is seeking comment from Starbucks.