Starbucks Poised to Offer Free Legal Advice to Immigrant Employees

Starbucks’ immigrant employees won’t need to worry about the costs and complexities associated with hiring a lawyer as the clouds of confusion looming over President Trump’s travel ban intensify.

In a letter addressed to workers on Monday, the company’s executives declared that the company would be teaming up with Ernst & Young, which is one of the world’s largest professional service firms, to provide its employees with an immigration advisory program.

Referring to its employees as partners, the company said that it understood that “many partners still have questions about what this (the travel ban) means for them”. “[W]e are putting our partners first and leading with humanity,” the letter added.

“Our partners and their families have questions about travel and immigration status, so we wanted to provide them with a newly developed Immigration Advisory Program to meet their needs”, Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges was reported to have said to The Huffington Post in an email.

The resource will be available to both full-time and part-time employees and their families.

The company announced that Ernst & Young will offer all Starbucks’ employees and their families free legal advice to “help navigate immigration issues and get answers in these uncertain times.”

“Our Partner Resources team has and will continue to proactively reach out to partners who we know are impacted by the Executive Order, and any related actions, to connect them to the legal resources needed for their individual scenarios,” the company added.

The step follows a recent announcement by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz that the company would hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next five years. Schultz had announced that the initial hiring efforts will be focused on refugees “who have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel in the various countries where our military has asked for such support.”

In doing so, the 63-year-old joined a growing list of businessmen who took a stand against Trump’s travel ban. The Brooklyn-born top executive of one of the world’s most reputed coffee companies had said that the ban evoked “confusion, surprise and opposition”.

The immigration ban, aimed at countries like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, all of which are Muslim-majority nations, was implemented on January 27. The order had also resulted in the suspension of the US refugee program for 120 days.

The ban has, however, faced stiff resistance from business houses, ethics groups and politicians. It hit a legal roadblock last week after a federal judge in Washington put a halt on the order only to see the Trump administration vow to appeal against the ruling to restore the ban at the earliest.

In its letter, Starbucks has made a list of special email addresses to which the employees can send their queries about the travel ban. The company also said that it had initiated the process to reach out to the employees holding visas from any of the affected countries.

With over 238,000 employees working at more than 25,000 stores in 75 countries all over the world, Starbucks is one of the most well-known coffeehouse chains worldwide.

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