Thursday, June 21News That Matters

Starbucks Now Allows Anyone to Use Restrooms, Sit In Without Buying Anything

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Starbucks is now allowing anyone to use its restrooms or to sit in its cafes, even if they do not buy anything. The coffee chain giant made the announcement of its new policy on Saturday, May 18, more than a month after two African American who hadn’t bought anything at a Philadelphia Starbucks was arrested when they refused to leave.

“Any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes, and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase,” Starbucks said in a statement published on its official website. It did not mention if this new policy applies in the US alone, but it can be assumed that it also applies to all their stores around the world, including the Philippines.

“We are committed to creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome,” Starbucks added. However, it emphasized that workers can still call the police if a guest is a threat to safety. Starbucks also directed guidelines and procedures to workers on how to approach and deal with disruptive and abusive customers.

Early this month, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz spoke at the Atlantic Council already gave a hint to this new policy. He recalled the old policy where a store manager can decide whether a non-paying guest should be allowed to sit in or use the store bathrooms. In his talk, he emphasized that this rule is “absolutely wrong in every way.”

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100% of the time and give people the key, 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,” Schultz said, asking workers to be considerate of others.

Last April 12, black American Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson went inside a Philadelphia Starbucks to meet someone for a business meeting. After around 2 minutes, Nelson asked the Starbucks manager if he could use the bathroom but he was told that it is only for paying customers. Shortly after, police came and arrested both of them.

According to the Starbucks manager, he called 911 because Nelson and Robinson refused to leave the store and accused them of trespassing. The arrest was caught on video and immediately went viral, and earned tons of criticisms. It also ignited protests and boycott against Starbucks. No charges were filed, but they spent 4 hours in jail.

On April 16, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson personally met with Nelson and Robinson and apologized to them. “Sitting across from these young men and really trying to understand how this could happen … in a Starbucks. It is an emotional learning experience, and I take it personally.” He said in a live interview via CNN Money.

Later, Nelson and Robinson received an undisclosed amount of money as the settlement from Starbucks and an offer of a free college education. The company also plans to close all its more than 8,000 stores in the US this coming May 29 to conduct racial bias training to all of its store managers and workers across the country.

 
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