Lawsuit filed challenging Starbucks’ claims of “100% ethical sourcing” despite reported human rights and labor abuses in its supply chain

On January 10, 2024, the National Consumers League, represented by Altshuler Berzon LLP, filed a lawsuit against Starbucks Corporation under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act.  The lawsuit, filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court, alleges that Starbucks has engaged in the unfair and deceptive trade practice of misrepresenting to consumers that it is “committed to 100% ethical coffee sourcing” and to “100% ethically sourced tea” when in reality Starbucks does not ethically source its coffee beans or tea leaves. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, Starbucks sources coffee beans and tea leaves from cooperatives and farms that have committed documented, severe human rights and labor abuses, including the use of child labor and forced labor as well as rampant and egregious sexual harassment and assault.

Starbucks prominently displays that it is “Committed to 100% Ethical Coffee Sourcing” on the front of every retail bag of coffee beans and every box of K-Cup coffee pods it sells throughout the country.  But according to the lawsuit, governmental investigators and journalists have repeatedly uncovered egregious forms of worker exploitation occurring on farms supplying to Starbucks and/or “certified” by Starbucks as “ethical” in countries including Brazil, Guatemala, and Kenya.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.  Altshuler Berzon LLP is counsel for the plaintiff National Consumers League along with James & Hoffman, P.C. and The Rezvani Law Firm LLC.  The National Consumers League press statement can be found here.

News reports can be found here:

NBC News

Forbes