Starbucks has denied claims that it has banned U.S. employees from displaying pro-LGBT+ decorations in some of its outlets during Pride Month.
The coffee chain said it was “deeply concerned by false information” circulating online and insisted there was “unwavering support” for the LGBT+ community, as a slew of other major brands - most notably Bud Light owners Anheuser-Busch - continue to face boycotts from some consumers in response to their pro-LGBT+ stances.
The allegations aimed at Starbucks surfaced online when a petition was posted to Coworker.org, in which it was claimed a regional manager has told workers they cannot put up Pride decorations this year.
A coffee shop employee who started the petition reported they had come into work one day in early June - which is Pride Month - to find all of their store’s Pride decorations had been taken down.
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The unnamed barista wrote: “I was told that they had just implemented a new no-decorations policy. And I was like, ‘Right before Pride?’ That’s really suspicious and kind of weird. I was pretty sure it wasn’t just our store, because our store managers are very supportive of LGBT stuff, most of our employees are LGBT community members, and I was told that it was the regional manager’s decision.
“This is so ridiculous, because it’s just a little quality of life thing that we can do, it doesn’t have any impact on corporate, it doesn’t reduce their profits – even the customers like it. We get a lot of compliments on decorations and lots of our customers are also LGBT community members, and I found that really frustrating and, honestly, pointless.”
The Starbucks Workers United union, which represents employees at more than 300 U.S. locations, later accused the company of banning and/or removing Pride decor in almost two dozen states.
Starbucks has denied any such policy changes and said it was awaiting a response from the regional manager at the centre of the petition’s allegations.
Spokesperson Andrew Trumbull said: “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 U.S. Pride month in June.
“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.”