By Christian Horta
Starbucks has recently been under fire for treating customers differently.
On April 12, two African-American males were asked to leave a Starbucks in Philadelphia after being asked to make a purchase.
The former manager called 911 to report trespassing and told the dispatcher “I have two gentlemen at my cafe that are refusing to make a purchase or leave,” according to an audio recording that was released by police.
When police arrived, they requested an additional officer and a supervisor.
The men were arrested and taken to police headquarters.
According to local media, the men were waiting for a friend.
Another incident occurred at a Starbucks in Torrance after an African-American man asked a Starbucks employee for a restroom code, after the same employee gave it to a white male.
James Sanchez, a Starbucks employee from Alhambra, said that he and his colleagues give the restroom code to anyone who asks for it, whether not they bought something.
“Some people only come to use the restroom and that’s fine. I believe that everyone should have the right of having access to a bathroom,” said Sanchez.
This incident caught the attention of Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson. He apologized and called the situation “reprehensible” and is promising “unconscious bias” training for all store team members.
Lack of training is what caused these situations to occur. Every location has its customers and employees do not know who may vandalize their bathroom or make a mess.
Starbucks should pick up habits from other restaurants and fast food chains.
Chick-Fil-A restaurants have a restroom code that is printed on the customer’s receipt.
If customers ask for the code, employees can refer them to the receipt.
This is especially true when the Starbucks is located in crime-ridden neighborhoods.
Employees need to be aware of who is entering the store, but if they aren’t doing anything that disrupts other customers, then they should be left alone.
Areas of improvements are necessary, but each store should make adjustments depending on its location.
Sanchez also said they are lenient when people sit in without buying anything, unless a paying customer can’t find where to sit. “If a person is taking up a seat of a paying customer, then, yes, they have to give it up,” said Sanchez.
As for the two African-American men who were waiting for their friend to arrive, perhaps that former manager was being racist.
If that’s the case, it’s an isolated incident and should be handled differently. However, this became a national headline and prompted widespread protests over something that is irrelevant to most of us who have nothing to do with it.
The character and personality of one Starbucks employee should not reflect the image of them all so it is a great idea that Johnson is promising proper training.
Whether it is racial profiling or not, it is a step in recognizing that racial bias is wrong and humiliating to those affected.
Regardless of what companies try to do to address the issue, there will still be people who say that racism exists.
Starbucks will be closing all of its stores for a few hours on May 29 to observe the issue.