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Posted: May 14, 2018

Starbucks changes bathroom policy after Philadelphia arrests

Men Arrested In Philadelphia Starbucks Say Manager Called 911 Minutes After They Arrived

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Starbucks changes bathroom policy after Philadelphia arrests
FILE PHOTO: CEO Howard Schultz pauses while speaking during the Starbucks annual meeting of shareholders on March 22, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Schultz recently announced a change in the company's bathroom policy after two black men were arrested for not leaving a Philadelphia Starbucks.

By Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Starbucks is changing its policy on who can use the coffee shops’ restrooms. Now anyone can use the facilities no matter if they have purchased anything.

The policy change came after two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia coffee shop after being asked to leave for not buying anything, The Associated Press reported.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were at the Starbucks for a business meeting. As they waited for a business associate, one of the men was denied the use of the restrooms and both were told to leave because they hadn’t purchased anything, the AP reported.

They were arrested, which was recorded via cellphone.

The call to 911 was made by now-former store manager Holly Hylton, about two minutes after Nelson and Robinson arrived at the location. Hylton told 911, “I have two gentlemen in my café that are refusing to make a purchase or leave,” The Philadelphia Tribune reported.

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The video quickly went viral. Nelson and Robinson settled with the Starbucks, as well as, with the city of Philadelphia, which gave each man a symbolic $1 settlement and a promise to set up a $200,000 program for young entrepreneurs, the AP reported.

Now Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said that he doesn’t want people to feel “less than” if they are refused the use of the restrooms. 

“We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision a hundred percent of the time and give people the key,” Schultz told the AP.

Bathroom access was left to the discretion of the store managers, the AP reported.

Shultz said that Nelson and Robinson should never had been arrested, the Tribune reported.

In addition to the new bathroom policy, Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores in the U.S. on May 29 for racial bias training, The Tribune reported.


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