Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Statement of Solidarity with Kati Moore, barista that was sexually assaulted by her supervisor while Starbucks did nothing

from the IWW Starbucks Workers Union

Kati Moore is a hero.

We, as workers at Starbucks, stand in complete solidarity with former barista, Kati Moore. Kati, at 20 years old, has far more integrity than the 56 year-old billionaire, Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz. She has taken a fierce stand on behalf of every worker who has been made to feel that they were merely the sexual property of an abusive, manipulative employer. When Kati came forward, we felt that she did so in an effort to protect each and every barista at Starbucks, and every underage employee working in retail, from experiencing her pain. We hope that her courage will give others the strength to speak up, and the strength to fight back when they feel they are at their weakest. Kati's experience shows us that we CAN stare down corporations like Starbucks and declare that we deserve to feel safe at work, that we deserve respect, and that we, if victimized, are not alone.

What Happened?

Kati Moore filed a lawsuit against Starbucks in 2007 because of the company's failure to act when she told her manager about the abuse she was going through. She is rightfully suing for monetary damages due to Starbucks' failure to comply with the law when her superiors in the company obtained knowledge of sexual assault between a minor and an adult, as well as a worker and a boss.

At the young age of 16, Kati was introduced to the workforce with her first job as a barista at a Starbucks in Orange County, CA. She was quickly taken advantage of by her then-24-year-old, Shift Supervisor, Tim Horton. Horton coerced Kati into a sexually abusive relationship. As the situation worsened, Kati bravely sought help by disclosing the abuse to her assistant store manager.

By not doing anything to stop the abuse or hold Horton accountable for his actions, the manager violated various laws that are in place to protect minors from sexual abuse, in addition to the laws surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace. As with many claims of sexual harassment at Starbucks, the person being harassed (in this case, Kati) was transferred to another store while the perpetrator received no repercussions for what they had done. Once Horton was tried for his offense of illegal sex with a minor,--in a separate case from the one between Kati and Starbucks--he served a four month prison sentence.

The law proclaims what Horton did was wrong, so why doesn't Starbucks?

When the company got word that Kati's story--which has been public knowledge for years--would be aired on national television, Starbucks issued several company-wide memos that reeked of lies and deception. The most disgusting assertion the company made was that what happened was a "consensual relationship." This statement is not only false in more ways than one, but de-criminalizes the actions of Tim Horton and re-victimizes the experience of Kati Moore and others that have experienced sexual abuse.

As defined by California penal code 261.5, sex with a minor (under age 18) is illegal and considered statutory rape. "Rape", by definition, is NEVER consensual. Under the law, Tim Horton raped Kati Moore and he is held responsible for having sex with a minor. This relationship was by no means consensual, and by saying it was, Starbucks is effectively stating its support of Horton once more (since it paid his legal fees in the earlier case where he was convicted of statutory rape) and framing Moore as "wanting it."

Furthermore, in a sexual relationship between a worker and a boss, the boss is the one held accountable in the relationship, because they are in a position of power. Thus, according to the first Supreme Court decision on sexual harassment: "The question is not whether the employee’s conduct was voluntary but whether the boss’s conduct was unwelcome…An employer can be held liable for sexual harassment committed by supervisors if it knew or should have known about the conduct and did nothing to correct it." (Meritor Savings Banks v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, 40FEP Cases 1822). Therefore, even if Kati's part in the relationship was "voluntary" the relationship is NOT consensual. Under the law, Kati experienced sexual harassment and assault. Kati herself describes the relationship as coercive, saying she feared for her job. Starbucks is responsible for their inaction, because under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers are liable to prevent and stop sexual harassment of their employees.

Therefore, Kati is not responsible for her actions in the eyes of the law, but Horton and Starbucks definitely are responsible.

Starbucks Needs to Seriously Reconsider Its Treatment of Kati and The Way They Deal with Cases of Sexual Harassment.

Whether Kati wins or loses, our main concern as workers is Starbucks' poor treatment of employees who come forward with cases of sexual harassment.

At Starbucks, sexual harassment issues are often joked about. Many who come forward do so through accessing the supposedly confidential "Ethics Hotline" only to have the information spread throughout the store, to get transferred without their consent, or to be told that they are lying. In several instances that we were told in confidence or have experienced as individuals, claims are said to be under investigation but are never discussed again and meanwhile an abused or otherwise violated worker must work alongside their perpetrator. In that time, the worker may experience retaliation for coming forward or be pushed into quitting in order to feel safe. We have even heard of circumstances where perpetrators of sexual harassment at Starbucks who were seen as favorites were promoted in order to have them transferred away from their victim(s).

No one should ever have to choose between their livelihood and their personal safety and well being.

In Kati's case, one could make a decent argument that Starbucks' poor training for managers on sexual harassment is to blame. Regardless of who is at fault for the actual offenses, or for the creation of the environment that made them commonplace at Kati's store, Starbucks is most certainly to blame for their disgusting choice of legal representation. By using Akin Gump, the same law firm that Starbucks employs to attempt to destroy the union organizing efforts of its employees, it becomes abundantly clear how Starbucks feels about their workers. Time and again, Starbucks ferociously defends its fortune and public image at the expense of common decency. "They are trying to defend themselves by calling me a slut," said Kati.. "It's intimidation. It's harassing to sit though deposition and just be re-victimized."

The way Starbucks has defended themselves by insinuating Kati is a slut, she could sue for defamation. When Kati decided to go public with her name and face through an interview with 20/20, Starbucks retaliated by petitioning Federal Judge Anthony J. Guilford to allow her past sexual history to be revealed in court, despite the fact that someone's past sexual history has zero bearing on whether or not they were sexually abused. This blame the victim mentality is unacceptable, especially for a company that spends so much money trying to convince the public that they are "socially responsible."

Shame on Judge Guilford and shame on Starbucks.

Kalen Holmes should step down, or be removed, from the post of Executive V.P. for Partner (Human) Resources.

As current employees at Starbucks, we are disturbed to see how our Executive V.P for Partner Resources, Kalen Holmes, has been conducting herself. We realize that she is the female face that Howard Schultz has chosen to speak through in regards to this case. If you'll notice, the Starbucks CEO so familiar with public appearances, has yet to speak on this matter to the media or his vast number of employees. In a previous statement announcing Holmes' hiring, it was mentioned that she directly reports to Howard Schultz. That said, it is clear where her hurtful words are really coming from...straight from the top of the Starbucks corporate chain. Schultz seems to think that putting a female executive's face to this stream of hateful words will make the public agree with Starbucks' stance. As if a woman blaming another woman's family for her assault and not being raised with good enough values, supposedly, is going to wipe away the clear misogyny of the statements. Holmes doesn't speak of the family of the 24yr old Tim Horton but only of the "choices" of a 16yr old girl. We feel that while Schultz is ultimately to blame for this smear campaign against Kati, it does not excuse Kalen Holmes from always having the choice to act with integrity and refuse to take part in trying to destroy this young woman's life. If it meant losing her job, then we feel she still should have stood on the side of the victimized rather than a CEO and corporation that would rather support a rapist.

What Can You Do to Support Kati and Hold Starbucks Accountable?

- Tell everyone you know about Kati. Feel free to repost this statement or a link to it anywhere you like. We'd appreciate an email to let us know you did. starbucksunion@yahoo.com
- Join the Facebook group, "Kati Moore is a Hero", and show your support for her while receiving updates about the case, and announcements of actions done to support Kati.
- Email Starbucks' Business Ethics department at BusinessConduct@Starbucks.com
- Fill out a comment card, available at Starbucks, mail your thoughts to the company. It's postage paid.
- Call Starbucks customer relations hotline at (800) 235-2883 to voice your support for Kati.

What Can We Do as Workers at Starbucks?

- Fill out a mission review and send Starbucks your thoughts on this
- Help spread the truth to your coworkers. Starbucks is doing the best they can to silence any workers talking about Kati and what she's gone through. You have the right to discuss these issues and can't not be silenced just because they don't want to hear about it.
- Refer coworkers to this statement
- Join the Facebook group in support of Kati - Kati Moore is a Hero
- Stories have been coming in about Baristas putting up notes at work in support of Kati. Some workers have started wearing "Stop Rape" pins on their uniforms. Get creative.
- Stand up for each other. Lend support for your coworker if you know they're going through a similar experience.
- If you've experienced sexual harassment at work and want support, feel free to contact us anytime. Everything will be confidential and we will never do anything in your name without your consent.

Resources for those affected by sexual harassment and/or assault:

* You can call the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network at 1-800-656-HOPE. Your call is free and completely confidential. Also, online at www.rainn.org

* If you are facing sexual harassment at your workplace, Sexual Harassment Support is an excellent resource for fighting back against it. http://www.sexualharassmentsupport.org/

* You can also contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if your workplace is in the United States. Website: www.eeoc.gov, or by phone, 1-800-669-4000

* If you're in Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canada Labour Code protect against harassment in the workplace. Learn more at http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/

* If you are having a hard time finding resources in your area for support you can email starbucksunion@yahoo.com and we will try to help you with finding local assistance.

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