Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told employees he is upset about media coverage of the company's tip-pooling policy that was shot down recently...

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told employees he is upset about media coverage of the company’s tip-pooling policy that was shot down recently by a California court and is being challenged with a lawsuit in Massachusetts.

“I want to personally let you know that we would never condone any type of behavior that would lead anyone to conclude that we would take money from our people,” Schultz said Wednesday in the voice mail to employees, which Starbucks shared with The Seattle Times. “When I read these headlines about Starbucks skimming or stealing from our partners, it’s just beyond my comprehension how irresponsible it is.”

A California court recently ordered Starbucks to pay an estimated $100 million in tips and interest to baristas who are required by company policy to share their tips with shift supervisors. Starbucks said it will appeal the decision. A similar lawsuit was filed this week by a former barista in Massachusetts.

“[W]e put the highest priority for 35-plus years on treating our partners with respect and dignity, and we do our best never to jeopardize the trust we have with one another. Are we a perfect company? Absolutely not. Do we make mistakes? Yes. But our heart has always been in the right place,” Schultz said in the voice mail. “I want you to hear my voice and understand both my concern about the mischaracterization, and most importantly, the truth, and really separate the fiction from the facts.”

Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com