Starbucks changes bathroom policy after arrests

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Starbucks is changing its companywide bathroom use policy after two men were arrested in one of the company’s locations in Philadelphia last month. 

The coffee shop chain will now allow anyone to use the restroom at Starbucks locations even if they are not paying customers, the company’s executive chairman Howard Schultz told the Atlantic Council on Thursday.

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom,” Schultz said. “But we’re going to make the right decision a hundred percent of the time and give people the key, 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 change comes after a black man was denied use of a Starbucks bathroom while waiting to meet a business associate in a Philadelphia store. The store’s manager called the police on the man and his friend, who had not yet ordered anything, for refusing to leave. 

Viral video of their arrest sparked a public outcry against the company and accusations of racism. The Starbucks manager who called the police has since left the company and the two men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, settled with the city for $1 each and a promise from local officials to set up a $200,000 young entrepreneur program.

CEO Kevin Johnson has also announced that all company-owned Starbucks stores will close on May 29 for mandatory racial bias training with employees. 

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