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Starbucks tells employees: Anyone can use our restrooms

Starbucks Corp. considers everyone a customer—no purchase necessary.

The coffee giant issued an open letter to employees in which it detailed a new policy whereby “any customer is welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase.” (Previously, Starbucks had no clear policy on the use of its stores, leaving such decisions largely up to store managers.)

“This policy is intended to help maintain the third place environment in alignment with our mission to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time,” the company explained. “We want our stores to be the third place, a warm and welcoming environment where customers can gather and connect.”

The new policy is part of Starbucks’ ongoing response to the arrest of two African-American men in April at one of its stores in Philadelphia. The men, who were waiting for a third to arrive for a meeting, asked to use the restroom and were told by an employee it was only for paying customers. When they then sat in the store without ordering anything, the manager called police, and the men were arrested for trespassing. (No charges were filed.).

On May 29, Starbucks will close all of its 8,000 U.S. locations for the afternoon for an employee training program designed to address racial bias.

In its policy update, Starbucks said that, in situations where a customer is behaving in a “disruptive manner that does not maintain the third place environment and interferes with the Starbucks Experience for others, Starbucks partners should follow the 'Addressing Disruptive Behaviors' procedure.” Depending on the circumstances, a disruptive customer can also be banned from Starbucks stores.

“ In these situations, Starbucks partners should follow ‘Requesting A Customer Restriction’ procedure,” the company stated.

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