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Starbucks Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Use of Coffee from Farms Engaging in Rights Abuses Despite Claims of ‘Ethical’ Sourcing

A leading consumer advocacy group has initiated legal action against Starbucks. 

The accusations are deceptive advertising by allegedly sourcing coffee and tea from farms engaged in human rights and labor abuses while promoting its commitment to ethical sourcing. 

The lawsuit, filed in a Washington, D.C. court on behalf of American consumers, asserts that Starbucks is misleading the public by extensively marketing its “100% ethical” sourcing commitment on its coffee and tea products.

Despite knowingly obtaining supplies from suppliers with “documented, severe human rights and labor abuses.”

Sally Greenberg, C.E.O. of the National Consumers League, the legal advocacy group behind the case, emphasized the significant human rights and labor abuses across Starbucks’ supply chain. 

The lawsuit references reports of violations on specific coffee and tea farms in Guatemala, Kenya, and Brazil, claiming that Starbucks has continued to procure from these suppliers despite documented abuses.

Starbucks has not yet responded to requests for comments on its relationships with the mentioned farms and companies. 

However, a previous statement to N.B.C. News outlined their commitment to adhering to standards, regular reverification of supply chains, and collaboration with business partners to meet expectations detailed in their Global Human Rights Statement.

In Brazil, labor officials have taken action against several reported Starbucks suppliers for abusive labor practices.

These include underage workers, garnishing costs from farm workers’ wages, lack of clean drinking water, personal protective equipment, and bathrooms. 

In response to reported labor abuses, Starbucks issued statements expressing deep concern and committing to thorough investigations.

The lawsuit aims to prevent Starbucks from making claims about ethical sourcing unless the company improves labor practices within its supply chain. 

Starbucks uses third-party certification programs, including its own C.A.F.E. Practices, to oversee coffee sourcing. 

However, critics argue that such programs are flawed, as evidenced by ongoing issues in global supply chains.