Starbucks settles with men arrested in Philadelphia store

Starbucks has settled with two black men who were arrested and led in handcuffs from a Starbucks store in Philadelphia on 12 April for trespassing, while waiting for a friend to arrive.

The company released a joint statement on 2 May from the men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.

The statement said that “after  constructive conversations and mediation before a retired federal judge in Philadelphia,” both sides reached a settlement agreement earlier in the week that would allow them “to move forward and continue to talk and explore means of preventing similar occurrences at any Starbucks location”.

Following the incident, Starbucks closed its more than 8,000 company-owned stores in the United States on the afternoon of 29 May to conduct racial-bias education geared toward preventing discrimination in its stores. The training was provided to nearly 175,000 employees across the country, and will become part of the on-boarding process for new employees, whom Starbucks calls partners.

The agreement includes a confidential financial settlement as well as a commitment to continued listening and dialogue between the parties as a means toward developing specific actions and opportunities.

Johnson said previously he wanted to thank Donte and Rashon for their willingness to reconcile.

“I welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship with them to share learnings and experiences,” Johnson said. “Starbucks will continue to take actions that stem from this incident to repair and reaffirm our values and vision for the kind of company we want to be.”

Robinson and Nelson intend to focus the public reaction to their arrest toward providing opportunities for young people from underserved communities.

Jointly they said, “We appreciate the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with Kevin Johnson and the group around the table to address hard issues. We all recognize the importance of communication about differences and solutions, and that we will be measured by our action not words.”

As part of the agreement, Robinson and Nelson will have an opportunity to provide input based on their personal experience to former US Attorney General Eric Holder as part of company’s long-term diversity and equity efforts.

Robinson and Nelson have also been offered the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degrees through the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a first of a kind partnership with Arizona State University otherwise available to Starbucks partners to earn their bachelor’s degree with full tuition coverage.

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