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$100M owed to Starbucks baristas after supervisors wrongly tipped: court

A U.S. Superior Court judge has ordered Starbucks to pay its California baristas more than $100 million US in back tips that the coffee retailer paid to shift supervisors.

A U.S. Superior Court judge has ordered Starbucks to pay its California baristas more than $100 million US in back tips that the coffee retailer paid to shift supervisors.

Starbucks was sued by a former employee in California who complained when shift supervisors shared in employee tips. The company says it will appeal the trial decision against it. ((Elaine Thompson/Associated Pres))

Saying baristas were entitled to $86 million US plus interest in back tips, San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett also issued an injunction that prevents Starbucks' shift supervisors from sharing in future tips.

Cowett says the practice was a violation of a state law that prohibits managers and supervisors from sharing employee tips.

Starbucks official Valerie O'Neil says the company plans an immediate appeal of the ruling, calling it "fundamentally unfair and beyond all common sense and reason."

The lawsuit was filed in October 2004 by Jou Chou, a former Starbucks barista in La Jolla, Calif., who complained shift supervisors were sharing in employee tips.

The lawsuit gained ground in 2006 when it was granted class-action status, allowing for the suit to go forward for as many as 100,000 former and current baristas in the coffee chain's California stores.

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