Starbucks to reverse open bathroom policy for safety reasons, CEO says

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says his company decided to once again close its restrooms to the general public.

Starbucks opened its bathrooms to the public in 2018 after two Black men were denied use of the bathroom in a Philadelphia Starbucks while they were waiting for a friend to arrive. When they then sat down in the store without ordering anything, a Starbucks employee called the police, and they were arrested for trespassing. No charges were ever filed.

The incident garnered a lot of negative publicity for Starbucks. The apologizeyd and closed all of its stores for a day to hold racial bias training for employees.

At the time, the company announced that “any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase.”

Starbucks’ CEO at the time, Kevin Johnson made a public apology over the incident and also reached a settlement with the 2 men involved.

 “I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” said Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. “While this is not limited to Starbucks, we’re committed to being a part of the solution. Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities.”

But Schultz said at a New York Times DealBook conference in Washington, DC, Thursday, that the company may have to change its policy once again.

He said that a growing mental health problem was posing a threat to staff and customers and making it difficult for Starbucks employees to manage its stores with the current policy in place.

“We have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people,” the Times quoted Schultz as saying at the conference. “I don’t know if we can keep our bathrooms open.”




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