Last month, two black men went to a Starbucks in Philadelphia to wait for a third person for a business meeting. The men did not buy anything and were denied use of the restroom. An employee called police two minutes after they arrived, and moments later the men were arrested.
This incident took less than 10 minutes, but it prompted protests, boycotts, and accusations of racism. Now, Starbucks has changed its policy.
On Saturday, Starbucks informed employees of the official policy in a letter stating that the company aims to create, “a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome.” Creating such an environment involves opening restrooms to nonpaying guests.
“Any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes, and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase,” the policy reads.
Previously, Starbucks employees had been free to choose whether or not nonpaying guests can remain in the building. However, the company said the new policy would apply to more than 8,000 company-operated US cafes.
While the policy may appear to give nonpaying customers freedom to do as they please, the policy lays out expectations for its customers as well:
When using a Starbucks space, we respectfully request that customers behave in a manner that maintains a warm and welcoming environment by:
Using spaces as intended
Being considerate of others
Communicating with respect
Starbucks employees are still encouraged to call the police if a situation “presents an immediate danger to partner or customer safety.”
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