• Cullen and Dykman LLP Blogs

  • Archives

  • Starbucks and its Changing Policies Regarding Mandatory Training and Bathroom Usage

    On May 29, 2018, Starbucks closed 8,000 company-owned stores within the United States for one afternoon to provide mandated racial bias training to its 175,000 employees.

    The decision to provide racial bias training came forth after a manager of Starbucks called the police when seeing two black enter their Starbucks located in downtown Philadelphia without making a purchase.

    On April 12, 2018, two black men asked to use the bathroom but were told by a Starbucks employee that their bathrooms were only for paying customers.

    After being told they could not use the bathroom, the men waited for their friend without purchasing anything. Meanwhile, the manager called the police and informed them that two gentlemen refused to make a purchase or leave.

    When the police arrived, the men were handcuffed and escorted from the Starbucks location.

    Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson stated that he is taking the initiative of providing racial bias training in hopes of educating Starbucks employees on how to better recognize unconscious bias.

    The training will be designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion and to prevent discrimination inside a Starbucks location.

    In addition to mandatory racial bias training, on May 11, 2018, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz stated that the company is changing its bathroom policy. Now anyone can use the bathroom or sit in any of their locations whether they make a purchase or not.

    The changed policy also allows anyone to use Starbucks spaces, including café and patio space, regardless of whether they make a purchase.

    Schultz stated that they are changing their bathroom policies because Starbucks wants everyone, whether or not they are a paying customer, to feel welcome at Starbucks.

    Employers should provide racial bias training to assist employees in reducing the influence of bias between groups of people and stereotypes about those groups. This is essential to strengthen relationships between the company and individuals of the community.

    Aspects such as what is bias, where it comes from, examples of bias, and how to reduce and manage bias will provide awareness on how to recognize and stop actions driven by unconscious bias.

    Therefore, it is of great importance that companies continue to review its policies and practices to prevent profiling and discrimination of any sort.

    Additionally, companies are encouraged to train employees on such issues.

    If you, or your institution, have any questions regarding racial bias training for employees, please contact Cynthia A. Augello at caugello@cullenanddykman.com or via telephone at 516-357-3753.

    Thank you to Kuljit Kaur, a law clerk with Cullen and Dykman LLP, for her assistance with this post.