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Starbucks and Discrimination: Part Deux

Image Ref: 04-13-10 - Starbucks Coffee, York, Viewed 25196 times Since many of you expressed concern and dismay over Starbuck’s discriminatory job application form, I felt obliged to ask Starbucks to explain why they have illegal questions in their application forms.  So, I sent a quick note:

Dear Starbucks:

I use your application form in my employment law classes as an example of how companies violate the Ontario Human Rights Code in their job recruitment practices.  Two questions in particular seem problematic:  the question about the name and address of an applicant’s schools, and the question about whether applicants are available to work overtime.  My students are concerned about these questions, and would like to know whether Starbucks thinks they are lawful, and if so, whether it believes an applicant’s answers to the questions are a relevant consideration in hiring decisions.  We look forward to your response.

Professor David Doorey,  York University

I received a response from our friends at Starbucks:


Thanks for your interest in Starbucks Coffee Company. Unfortunately, due to the volume of student requests we receive, we’re unable to grant interview or survey requests or provide information about the company beyond what we make publicly available.

For more information about Starbucks, including our most recent annual reports, visit our website at There you will find the Corporate Social Responsibility annual report, our latest press releases, SEC filings, and general company information. For industry information such as market share, please visit the Specialty Coffee Association website at ..

Thanks again for your interest in Starbucks Coffee Company, and good luck with your project.


Jonathan M.

Customer Relations

Apparently, Starbucks thought I was a student, and therefore had no time for my questions about human rights violations in their application forms.  I replied as follows:

Thank you for that boilerplate response Jonathan M.  Unfortunately, it is your publicly available information that is violating human rights laws.  However, I will be sure to pass along your thoughtful response to the students.

David Doorey


4 Responses to Starbucks and Discrimination: Part Deux

  1. Ryan Reply

    October 5, 2008 at 12:17 am

    That is awful. Even under the new regime, doesn’t the Human Rights Commission have a duty to investigate Code violations? Or have we switched to an “as complained” basis with the Tribunal? There’s also this number on the Starbucks Canada website:

    Law Enforcement Inquiries
    Ontario – 647 449 7641

    This is a law enforcement issue after all…

  2. Carly Reply

    October 6, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I work as a supervisor for Starbucks and I actually brought it up in a store meeting we had. My manager claimed that applicants did not have to answer those questions if they didn’t want to and that is why they are allowed to put them on the application. I explained to her that it does not say it is optional on the application and that it is still an illegal question. She didn’t know what to say and continued to make up excuses. I asked her if there was someone I could contact to get some answers and she is still in the process of getting me a name and a number…

  3. Justine Reply

    October 7, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    That was AWESOME professor! Well, they can’t you didn’t try to warn them. Too bad many students don’t know their rights.

    However, if students could know their rights, do you think they would care?


  4. Dina Reply

    September 16, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Thank you professor Doorey for bringing this up. I think we the students should boycot Starbucks until they make corrections in their application form that will prevent them from discriminating us Students. We should spread the word too.

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