Lawyer salary

Starbucks’ top lawyer got $5.3 million in union fight year

Starbucks Corp. chief legal officer Rachel Gonzalez received more than $5.3 million in total compensation last year, one in which the company faced a growing push to unionize workers at its coffee shops.

The Seattle-based channel disclosed Gonzalez’s compensation in the channel’s Jan. 28 annual proxy statement. The company cited its role in addressing shareholder concerns about executive compensation, improving stakeholder engagement and collaboration on environmental, social and governance issues in justifying its pay package for 2021.

Gonzalez received more than $1.7 million in cash compensation, including nearly $753,000 in base salary and $971,500 in non-stock incentive plan compensation, as well as nearly $3.6 million in stock .

Starbucks hired Gonzalez to be its general counsel in 2018, when she previously served as chief legal officer at travel technology company Saber Corp. Gonzalez was not previously among Starbucks’ five or six highest-paid executives in his annual proxy filings. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Starbucks has turned to labor and employment-focused law firm Littler Mendelson, a frequent adviser to restaurant industry employers, to represent it over the past year in a a growing unionization drive by workers at some company-run cafes in some US states. Littler has played a role in nearly 12% of Starbucks’ U.S. federal litigation portfolio over the past five years, according to data from Bloomberg Law.

Gonzalez, who also served as general counsel for Dean Foods Co. and a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, currently owns about $10.2 million in Starbucks stock, according to Bloomberg data. Starbucks securities filings show it sold about $9.1 million of the company’s stock last year.

Gonzalez’s compensation is higher than the $4.4 million that retired AmerisourceBergen Corp. chief legal officer John Chou earned last year. That pales in comparison to the nearly $17 million that former Walt Disney Co. general counsel Alan Braverman received and the $27 million paid to Apple Inc. general counsel Katherine Adams. .

In the restaurant and foodservice space, proxy filings show Gonzalez’s compensation was on par with Tyson Foods Inc. chief legal officer and head of global governance and corporate affairs Amy Tu, which earned more than $4.7 million in 2021. Restaurant giant Aramark paid nearly $1.2 million to its general counsel Lauren Harrington last year, while Flanigan’s Enterprises Inc., owner of South Florida restaurant chain Flanigan’s paid more than $1.5 million to chief financial and legal officer Jeffrey Kastner.

Diversity Branch

Gonzalez is a member of the National Hispanic Bar Association’s Poder25 initiative, which aims to increase the number of Latinos serving as legal department heads at Fortune 1000 companies by 2025.

Starbucks, in its most recent proxy, cited Gonzalez’s “leadership in diversity activities” and monthly mentoring sessions with Black, Indigenous, or employees of color in its job performance evaluation.

Gonzalez took over as chief legal officer at Starbucks four years ago from former general counsel Lucy Lee Helm, whom the company promoted to director of partners, a role that put her in charge of a group company that offered increased benefits to Starbucks store employees. .

Helm retired from Starbucks in December 2020, a year in which she received more than $4.4 million in total compensation, according to a company proxy statement. Starbucks hired Helm in 1999 as its first in-house litigant.

Helm replaced in 2013 Paula Boggs, a former US Army paratrooper who held the top legal position at Starbucks for a decade. Boggs was an early advocate for diversity and inclusion in the corporate legal world.