Following the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks location in April, the company is now opening its doors—and bathrooms—to everyone, even those who aren’t buying coffee.
According to Wall Street Journal, the coffee chain sent an email to employees that stated: “Any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”
This echoes the statement made by former CEO and current chairman Howard Schultz earlier in May. “We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100 percent of the time and give people the key,” Schultz said while speaking to the Atlantic Council. “Because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to you to the bathroom because you are ‘less than.’ We want you to be ‘more than.’”
The move is a response to the incident in which a Starbucks manager called the police on Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, who were holding a business meeting at the coffee shop without having made a purchase, and the two were subsequently escorted outside and arrested. After video footage of the arrest went viral, the company apologized and CEO Kevin Johnson called the situation “reprehensible.”
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To quell some customer concerns following the announcement of the new policy, Starbucks clarified to the Wall Street Journal that employees will be trained on how to handle people behaving in a disruptive manner, which according to the publication includes “smoking, drug or alcohol use, improper use of restrooms and sleeping.”
On Tuesday, May 29, Starbucks will also temporarily close all of its locations in the afternoon so that employees can undergo racial bias training.