Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Starbucks Now Offering Free Immigration Legal Advice to Employees

In response to the executive order on immigration prohibiting entry to the US from the seven identified Muslim nations, Starbucks had a few major announcements. The coffee behemoth announced that not only will they be hiring 10,000 refugees worldwide; they also announced a new employee program that provides their employees with free legal advice on immigration issues.

The free immigration legal advice program is meant to help US Starbucks employees that are immigrants and may be concerned about whether the new executive order, which was blocked by a federal judge, impacts them. Additionally, employees are not limited to asking questions about the EO, they can ask any of their legal immigration questions, or other questions about travel restrictions as well. In addition to Starbucks, several tech giants came out against the president's immigration ban. Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft all signed onto a legal brief, with numerous other corporations, which decried the ban, stating that it would inflict harm on American businesses.

Should Your Business Follow Starbucks' Lead?

Starbucks' announcements made headlines across the country, and likely drove a short spike in sales. That latter assumption likely has many small business owners wondering whether they too can capitalize on social and political movements.

While your small business may not have the resources of Starbucks, you may be considering getting political on social media, or sponsoring social justice causes. But you may also be worried about potential consequences. As a preliminary matter, if the motivation is solely for profit, you should really consider the risks carefully, particularly as insincere efforts could result in being hated by people on both sides of an issue. You may also see backlash from employees over their political beliefs.

Business and Politics

Generally, businesses are allowed to be political, and can fund social justice causes or other projects. While small businesses can see positive returns as a result of any sort of publicity, businesses need to be careful not to be too polarizing, and not to be seen as green-washing.

If your business takes a political or social stance adverse to the community it exists in, that could equate to financial trouble if local consumers decide to stop supporting your business. Conversely, even if your business takes a stance that conforms with the local politics, outsiders and opponents might band together and attempt to organize boycotts or protests.

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