Starbucks is opening its bathrooms to everyone regardless of whether they've bought anything, and one organization thinks this new policy could come back to haunt the business.
The new bathroom policy follows the arrest in April of two African-American men at a Starbucks location in Philadelphia. The men were not paying customers, and one of them was denied use of a bathroom before he sat down to await a business meeting. He and his business partner were later arrested.
Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz says he does not want the company to become a public bathroom, but he feels employees can make the "right decision a hundred percent of the time" if that choice is removed at the store level. Still, Horace Cooper of the Project 21 Black Leadership Network says they cannot have it both ways.
"Either anyone can come in and use the restroom and it's a public bathroom, or it's a place that's reserved for customers," Cooper tells OneNewsNow.
In some areas, Cooper says there is no need to rigorously check and make sure that the people coming in are actually customers.
"But in many cities -- that could be San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, I could go on -- if this policy goes forward, you might as well close down those locations," he submits. "The homeless, the criminal community, and people who are just trying to be difficult are going to regularly show up, and they're going to chase away your customer base."
Based on this, Cooper thinks the new policy is "completely ridiculous."
"If you're going to have all of these locations announce that it's okay for anyone to come in and go to the restroom, you absolutely are going to pay a commercial price for this," he asserts.
Earlier this month, the black men arrested at Starbucks settled for $1 each, plus a $200,000 program for entrepreneurs.