“Whites only”? Man claims L.A. Starbucks denied him bathroom use

Another incident of alleged racial bias at Starbucks is stirring new outrage. A black man claims he was denied access to a bathroom at a Los Angeles store, even though a white man was given the entry code. Neither were paying customers.

The incident in Los Angeles, along with the one in Philadelphia last week, has left Starbucks struggling with accusations of racism from coast to coast. Both events appear to have started when Starbucks employees refused to let black men use their store bathrooms, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller.

“Once the thing happened this past weekend in Philadelphia, that’s when I was like, ‘Hey, the same thing happened to me,'” Brandon Ward said.

In the newly resurfaced video that was originally posted in January, a white Starbucks customer named Westin tells Ward he had no problems getting access to the bathroom.

“You asked for the code and they just gave it to you, right?” Ward could be heard asking.

“Yeah,” Westin responded.

“Before you made a purchase?”

“Yeah,” Westin said.

Ward, who was refused the code minutes earlier, then confronts a Starbucks manager about the apparent double standard.

“This is a private business,” the Starbucks employee said.

“This is not your business though,” Ward said.

“I am the store manager.”

“Okay, you may be the store manager –” Ward started.

“And I’m asking you to leave right now. You’re actually not allowed to be in here anymore. You need to leave,” the manager said.

Ward said a security guard escorted him out before police arrived.

“There should have been a sign right there that says whites only, because that’s how they treated it,” Ward said.

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson wouldn’t answer questions about the latest video. He was in Philadelphia meeting with the city’s mayor and police chief amid growing outcry and protests over the arrests of two black businessmen in a Starbucks last week.

The men were denied using the store’s bathroom because they weren’t paying customers. When they refused to leave, a manager called 911. Johnson apologized and wants to meet with the men. 

“Now there’s been some calls for us to take action on the store manager. I believe that blame is misplaced. In fact, I think the focus of fixing this — I own it. This is a management issue, and I am accountable,” Johnson said in a video statement.

Starbucks said the manager at the Philadelphia store who called 911 no longer works here. The company declined to say whether she left on her own, was fired, or transferred to a different location.

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