By Janice Limon
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ANDERSON COUNTY, South Carolina (WYFF) — A group of Upstate Starbucks workers on Monday filed a defamation lawsuit against the company charging that a manager lied in a police report accusing them of kidnapping and assault.
A release from Workers United said eight workers at the Starbucks on Clemson Boulevard in Anderson, including three who “were wrongfully fired,” filed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the company decided to “weaponize the legal process against them,” saying it was a coordinated effort by Starbucks upper management and its counsel.
The suit stems from an encounter that happened on Aug. 1 when workers collectively presented a letter of demands to their store manager.
The demands included better working conditions and improved benefits, workers said.
The encounter was recorded on video and posted to social media by SBWorkersUnited, showing the workers standing in front of the manager, who was on the phone while sitting at a table inside the store. The manager, at one point, stands up and walks past one of the workers.
“Two days later, the store manager filed a false police report accusing the workers of assault and kidnapping,” the release said. “Starbucks corporate then issued a public statement reiterating the false accusations,” the release stated.
Read more about the police report filed, the company’s statements issued about it and the workers protest against it here: wyff4.com/article/south-carolina-starbucks-manager-threatened-assaulted-report/40858168
The incident report was filed with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 3.
An investigation into the claims led to deputies gathering evidence and interviews in the case.
Investigators presented the case to Judge Nancy Devine on Sept. 12, who denied a warrant based on the evidence presented, according to the incident report.
That led to the investigation being closed and all charges being dropped, deputies said.
The defamation lawsuit is asking for a trial by jury, claiming the defendants engaged in defamation and abuse of power.
The suit asks for awards, including compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs.
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