In this 2017 photo, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

In this 2017 photo, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Starbucks changes bathroom policy following racial firestorm

Purchases will no longer be necessary as a prerequisite to using the facilities.

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Starbucks has told employees to let anyone use the restroom, even if they haven’t bought anything, as it reviews its policies and tries to restore its reputation after the arrest of two black men at a coffee shop in Philadelphia.

The coffee chain it wants all customers coming in “to feel welcome” and it’s conducting a three-month review of its guidelines. That follows comments from Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said he didn’t want people to feel “less than” if they were refused access.

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom,” said Schultz, “but we’re going to make the right decision a hundred percent of the time and give people the key.”

The arrests in Philadelphia were a major embarrassment for Starbucks, which has long projected itself as a socially conscious company and has promoted its stores as a place for people to gather outside of their homes and offices.

Schultz said Starbucks had maintained a “loose policy” on bathroom access, though decisions were ultimately left up to store managers on whether someone could use them. At the Philadelphia store, it was policy to ask people who hadn’t bought anything to leave.

That was the case at the store on April 12. The two men, who were asked to leave the store after one was denied the bathroom key, sat down to await a business meeting they had scheduled. They were arrested minutes later by police, an incident captured by people using cellphones. It went viral, leading to protests.

The two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, settled with Starbucks earlier this month for an undisclosed sum and an offer of a free college education. Separately, they reached a deal with Philadelphia for a symbolic $1 each and a promise from city officials to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs.

The company plans to close more than 8,000 of its U.S. stores on the afternoon of May 29 for racial-bias training for its employees.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Mukilteo’s Diamond Knot Brewery & Alehouse before the state made them remove the six tables for outside dining because the sidewalk is on park property. (Diamond Knot)
State: No more drinking beer on the sidewalk at Diamond Knot

The Mukilteo alehouse had to remove six picnic tables that were on park property, which abuts the building.

Exterior of the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Gambling Commission OKs pacts with tribes for sports betting

Agreements with the Tulalips, Stillaguamish and 13 other tribes await approval by the governor and the feds.

Snohomish roofing company fined $1.2M for safety violations

State inspectors noted a dozen “willful serious violations.” Allways Roofing says it will appeal.

Paul Dolan
Everett’s Aviation Technical Services welcomes a new CEO

The airplane repair company president will step into his role at a critical moment for the aerospace industry.

Bothell man sentenced for illegally trading Amazon stock

He got confidential information from his wife, who was an Amazon finance employee at the time.

A Boeing 737 Max taxis after landing during a test flight in Seattle on Sept. 30, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Chona Kasinger.
United Airlines in talks to buy at least 100 Boeing Max jets

To attract orders for the plane, Boeing has been offering some customers steep discounts.

Couple sitting in summer cafe outdoor scene. Restaurant outside with table under umbrella vector illustration. Young man and woman eating and drinking, waiter coming with drinks.
You voted: The best patio in Snohomish County

During the pandemic, outdoor seating has become quite popular.

Boeing workers walk outside of Boeing's Everett assembly plant on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Boeing jet sales surge as pandemic retreats in U.S., Europe

Deliveries remain an issue due to problems in factories and increased scrutiny from U.S. regulators.

Two vector oysters in shells isolated on a white background
You voted: The best oysters in Snohomish County

Even during a pandemic, people still have their favorites.

Most Read