New York: Coffeehouse chain Starbucks has said that it will close over 8,000 of its outlets in the US for one day to conduct anti-bias training after two African-American men were arrested at a store last week, the media reported.
Starbucks will close the stores on May 29 to offer the training to 175,000 employees, reports The New York Times.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it,” Kevin R. Johnson, the company’s chief executive, said on Tuesday.
The training will address implicit bias, the company said on Tuesday, with input from groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People and the Anti-Defamation League.
The two men were arrested last week after asking to use the restroom at a Starbucks outlet in Philadelphia’s Center City.
An employee refused the request because the men had not bought anything, according to officials.
The men sat down and were asked to leave and an employee eventually called the police.
The ensuing scene was recorded in a video that has been viewed more than 10 million times on Twitter. In it, police officers appear to handcuff both men, as a third man, Andrew Yaffe, confronts them.
The arrests prompted a hashtag on social media, #BoycottStarbucks, and protests at the store. Videos posted online show protesters chanting and holding up signs.
Two days after the episode, Starbucks apologised, and Johnson called the situation a “reprehensible outcome”, The New York Times reported.
He pledged to make “any necessary changes to our practices that would help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again”.
The employee who called the police is no longer employed by Starbucks, the company said on Monday.
Starbucks has closed stores for training earlier too.
In 2008, it shut 7,100 of its American locations for three hours. But that training focused more on making the perfect latte as the company struggled with sputtering sales.
Starbucks operates more than 9,400 stores in the US, Canada and Latin America, according to its most recent annual filing; those stores generated nearly $14 billion in revenue in the company’s most recent fiscal year.
There are more than 12,000 Starbucks worldwide including 101 in India as of October 2017.