SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Workers at La Boulange told CBS 5 they could be fired in two months because they are illegal immigrants, after receiving letters from their new owner. Up to 400 workers could lose their jobs.

An employee showed CBS 5 a letter sent from Starbucks, which recently acquired La Boulange for $100 million. The letter said workers with a discrepancy in their Social Security numbers have 60 days to prove they are in the United States legally or be fired.

A worker, who did not want his identity revealed because he is an illegal immigrant, said he was upset by the letter.

“We put a lot of effort into this company,” he told CBS 5. “We put a lot of love and lot of work toward this company, you know. It’s not just work, it’s like a family for us.”

An estimated 200 cooks, dishwashers, and other prep workers could be let go at La Boulange’s 19 stores. Another 200 workers may be fired from the South San Francisco bakery where the artisan pastries are made.

At the bakery, an employee who did not want to reveal his identity told CBS 5 he is not worried, because he is an American citizen. But the employee said lots of his fellow co-workers are concerned.

Starbucks said it sent the letter to La Boulange employees on Monday, so it could offer them health coverage and other benefits.

Zack Hutson, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told CBS 5 by phone that word of employees being fired is “completely false.”

“No one’s lost their jobs because they’re undocumented,” he said.

When asked if Starbucks discovers workers who are illegal immigrants, he said, “Starbucks’ policy is to comply with all labor laws.”

In California, Starbucks said it does not use E-Verify, the federal program that checks if a worker is in the country illegally. La Boulange said it did not use the program either.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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