CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 8,000 company-owned Starbucks coffee shops will close their doors Tuesday afternoon to train employees about racial bias, after a racial profiling incident in Philadelphia went viral.
More than 175,000 Starbucks employees nationwide will participate in the mandatory training sessions focused on understanding racial bias and the history of discrimination in public.
Most of the 7,000 licensed Starbucks stores operated by hotels, grocery stores, and airports are not required to participate.
The decision to hold racial bias training at every Starbucks was made after two black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia last month. They initially asked to use the bathroom as they waited for a business meeting but they were denied, saying it was for paying customers only.
Video posted online shows police handcuffing Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, after they refused to leave the store or make a purchase while waiting for their friend to arrive.
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson has said the training sessions will help make sure such an incident does not happen at a Starbucks again.
With Starbucks stores closing for at least a few hours Tuesday afternoon, other coffee shops are trying to lure in new customers, by offering discounts or free drinks to people looking for somewhere else to get their afternoon cup of java.
Sip and Savor, a pair of independent coffee shops in Hyde Park and Bronzeville, are offering a free cup of coffee to every customer from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The owner of Sip and Savor said he sympathizes with Starbucks. He had a conversation with his staff about being civil after the incident at the Starbucks in Philadelphia.
Starbucks plans on sharing its racial bias training curriculum with other companies and organizations interested in training their employees and members.