Starbucks has instructed its employees to allow anyone to use the restroom, even if they have not bought anything, as it evaluates its policies and attempts to restore its reputation following the arrest of two black men at a coffee shop located in Philadelphia.
The coffee chain said that it wants all customers who come in “to feel welcome” and it is conducting a three-month review of its guidelines. The statement follows comments from Howard Schultz, the Chairman of Starbucks, said that he did not want people to feel “less than” if they were not given access.
Schultz stated: “We don’t want to become a public bathroom.
“But we’re going to make the right decision a hundred percent of the time and give people the key.”
The arrests that happened in Philadelphia were a huge embarrassment for Starbucks, which has long projected itself as a socially conscious firm and has promoted its stores as a place for people to gather outside of their offices and homes.
Schultz said that Starbucks had maintained a “loose policy” on the access of its bathroom, even though decisions were ultimately left up to the store managers on whether people could use them. At the Philadelphia store where the two men were arrested last April 12, it was policy to ask people who had not bought anything to leave.
The men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, who were requested to leave after one was disallowed access to the bathroom. They were arrested by the police minutes after they sat down to wait for a business meeting that they had scheduled. The incident was recorded by people using cellphones and it went viral, thus resulting in protests.
Earlier this month, Robinson and Nelson settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed amount and an offer of a free college education. Separately, they entered a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a pledge from officials of the city to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.
The firm plans to close over 8,000 of its stores in the United States on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training for all of its employees.