The coffee chain clarified who is allowed to use its restrooms.
While many businesses, if they have a public restroom at all, reserve usage of that facility to paying customers, Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz clarified the company's policy at an event in Washington D.C. yesterday. According to Schultz, the bathrooms at Starbucks' roughly 14,000 locations nationwide will be made available to anyone who needs them, whether or not they're buying coffee.
"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 at a speaking engagement for think tank 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 updated bathroom policy is part of the company's continuing response to criticisms in the wake of the arrest of two black men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, in a Philadelphia Starbucks back in April. The men were waiting for a business associate to show up and had not ordered anything yet. A manager called the police, accusing the men of loitering in the store. Footage of the incident surfaced on social media, causing public outcry and calls for a boycott of the coffee giant. The city of Philadelphia has since settled with the Robinson and Nelson who asked that any financial compensation be put toward entrepreneurial programs for area youth.
Another incident from January of this year involved a black man claiming he was denied access to a Torrance, CA store's bathroom, while a white man was given the code to enter, despite neither of the men purchasing anything, according to the Washington Post.
Last month, Starbucks announced that it would close all 8,000 of its company-owned stores nationwide on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 29 to conduct racial bias training with all of its employees to address these issues.