The Starbucks coffee chain may reverse its policy of letting non-customers use their restaurant bathrooms due to safety issues for its employees and customers. For a Seattle-based and notably liberal corporation, the coffeehouses are dealing with grownup issues in 2022.
The word on a possible change in potty policy came from interim CEO Howard Schultz, who was chairman when the current open-bathroom standard was enacted in 2018.
That change preceded the hostage-taking of U.S. corporations during the riots and destruction of the BLM summer in 2020. The Starbucks case followed the controversial arrests of two Black men at a Philadelphia store after one was denied access to the bathroom.
In response to the negative publicity, Starbucks apologized for how the incident was handled and closed all locations for one day for sensitivity training. To further cleanse their corporate guilt, the chain told employees to allow anyone to use their restrooms — purchaser or not.
Schultz at the time said the coffee chain did not want to become a “public bathroom” but sought to avoid negative feelings brought on by the arrests. So, despite being a private company whose facilities are hardly city property, the doors were thrown wide open.
How times have changed.
Calling the nation’s mental health crisis “severe, acute, and getting worse,” Schultz told a New York policy forum Thursday that safety issues are making it harder to run its stores.
He cited the company’s standard of allowing non-customers to use its facilities as problematic and an increasing danger to the coffeehouse chain’s staff and customers.
The CEO said “we have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people. I don’t know if we can keep our bathrooms open.”
In a further sign of how tough it is to be a woke corporation and grounded in the real world, Starbucks faces a small but growing organized labor movement. In a statement of defiance, Schultz told the same gathering that “a third party should not lead our people.”
Union sympathizers accuse Starbucks of illegal attempts to bust their organizing efforts, but Schultz describes them as a vocal minority looking to divide the company. That’s quite a statement from a liberal Seattle-based corporation, but it’s hard to be a liberal and a grownup in 2022.