Starbucks is urged to keep its bathrooms open to everyone, not just paying customers
- The American Restroom Association has called on Starbucks to keep its restrooms open to all.
- In June, CEO Howard Schultz threatened to close its bathrooms to non-paying customers.
The American Restroom Association has called on Starbucks to keep its bathrooms open to everyone, The Guardian reported.
The group is campaigning to "let the people go!'' to mark World Toilet Day after Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz threatened to bar non-paying customers from its facilities.
Schultz told The New York Times in June that Starbucks was rethinking its public bathroom policy, introduced in 2018, as "an issue of just safety. We have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people," he said.
A Starbucks spokesperson told Insider that the coffee chain's bathroom policy hasn't changed since Schultz's comments, although the American Restroom Association said that some stores were restricting their bathrooms to paying customers.
The Starbucks spokesperson said: "No changes to our bathroom policy have been made. Our local leaders continue to have a number of options at their disposal to support our Third Place Policy, which includes the ability to modify store operations and restroom access, following local jurisdiction laws where applicable."
Starbucks' open-door bathroom policy was launched in 2018 after two Black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. The two men, who hadn't bought anything, refused to leave the outlet after they were denied access to the bathroom.
Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks at the time, apologized and closed all Starbucks stores in the US for a entire day so staff could attend anti-bias training.
The two men settled with Starbucks for an undisclosed sum, as well as an offer of free college education.
In May 2018, Starbucks announced that it would allow everyone — including people who hadn't purchased anything — to use its bathrooms "100% of the time."
Per their website, the American Restroom Association's goal is to ensure that "our public restrooms are no longer a laughingstock among the developed world."
Speaking to the Guardian about the importance of Starbucks' open-door restroom policy, the association's president Steve Soifer said: "The problem is there aren't any other choices. Try to find city-built public toilets in New York City, they're virtually non-existent."
Starbucks and the American Restroom Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider.
World Toilet Day has been held annually on November 19 since 2013, when it was launched by the United Nations in a bid to inspire action to counter the global sanitation crisis.
According to the UN, 3.6 billion people live with poor-quality toilets, which damage health and pollute the environment.
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