Coffee conglomerate Starbucks says it may not allow the public to use its bathrooms anymore.
It’s CEO Howard Schultz said that the company may be changing its policy to address the safety of the staff.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says his company might not be able to keep its bathrooms open to the general public.
“There is an issue of, just, safety in our stores, in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom,” Schultz said during a New York Times DealBook event recently. “We have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers. The mental health crisis in the country is severe, acute and getting worse.”
“We have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people,” Schultz added. “I don’t know if we can keep our bathrooms open.
Starbucks first opened its bathrooms to the public in 2018 after two black men were denied the use of the bathroom in a Philadelphia Starbucks while they were waiting for a friend to arrive. A Starbucks employee called the police when he noticed they were not ordering anything and they were arrested for trespassing although no charges were filed.
The incident caused an uproar and Starbucks subsequently apologized. The coffee company closed all its doors for a day to hold racial bias training for its employees.
However this policy may be reversed again to ensure that employees feel secure and their mental health is not affected.
In 2018, Schultz said that opening bathrooms to anyone who asked was the right decision because of the implicit bias that occurred when they are denied access to the bathrooms.
He was then the company’s executive chairman.
“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,” Schultz said at that time.
Schultz recently returned to run the retailer as interim CEO, and he has been contending with growing angst among employees.