‘You can have my drink’: Customer returns beverage after Starbucks manager removes pride flag from building

ByHarshita Bhati
Jun 16, 2023 10:15 AM IST

The union Starbucks workers united scrutinizes Starbucks for issuing a new policy which has banned pride decoration.

A union of hundreds of Starbucks outlets claimed that employees in 21 states have been briefed by their managers to abstain from decorating for pride month. On the contrary, the company denied this claim which, according to them, represented “outlier” resolutions by local leaders that did not mirror corporate policy.

A customer returns her drink after the district manager removed pride flag. (USA Today screenshot/Twitter)
A customer returns her drink after the district manager removed pride flag. (USA Today screenshot/Twitter)

In a recent video, a Starbucks district manager took off a pride flag pinned on the building, which made a customer return her drink. “You can have my drink, I only came here because of that support and I am not gonna drink it.” She further showed her disappointment by mentioning, “People were coming here to protest, so when I saw the flag up, I bought a drink but I would rather not drink it”.

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The Starbucks workers’ union took to Twitter to protest against no pride decoration. Subsequently, Starbucks refused to change any policies surrounding pride decoration.

This year, due to varied guidelines from the district manager, who possesses discretion over store decorations, Starbucks stores adopted different approaches. Damon Schnur, an employee at Starbucks, Ohio, said "We were instructed not to hang any of our Pride flags by order of our district manager claiming it is a company-wide thing”.

An employee working in a Wisconsin outlet stated that the district manager notified him, "No store is allowed to have Pride décor anymore, as it doesn't fit Starbucks' current vision for appearance," and "Pride flags aren't welcoming to everyone and might be offensive."

In May, a few store managers raised questions regarding pride décor and requested clarity, in accordance with the company's workplace massage boards. The employees were asked to follow their market leader’s direction in regard to store display.

The employees criticized Starbucks' initial denial of removing the pride decorations in stores. The company claimed that the removal of decoration was not part of any corporate policy change as it was a regional management choice. Andrew Trumbull, the Starbucks spokesperson, affirmed that “We unwaveringly support the LGBTQIA2+ community. There has been no change to any policy on this matter and we continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities including for US Pride month in June,”

He further added, “We’re deeply concerned by false information that is being spread especially as it relates to our inclusive store environments, our company culture and the benefits we offer our partners. Starbucks has a history that includes more than four decades of recognizing and celebrating our diverse partners and customers – including year-round support for the LGBTQIA2+ community.”

The union repelled Starbucks's denial and cited several reports of employees highlighting the issue surrounding pride decoration. Starbucks employees claimed that the new policy is different from the previous one for pride month as it permitted pride decoration. Starbucks has aligned its policy with Target, which removed pride merchandise as a response to criticism and threats received from far-right anti-LGBTQ+ groups.

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