Starbucks bathrooms in at least 25 markets will be fitted with new needle-disposal units, as thousands of workers express concern about drug use in their bathrooms.
In May of last year, Starbucks announced that their bathrooms would be open to everyone after a viral outrage mob came after them over an employee calling the police on loitering customers.
“We don’t want to become a public bathroom, but we’re going to make the right decision 100% of the time and give people the key, because we don’t want anyone at Starbucks to feel as if we are not giving access to you to the bathroom because you are less than,” Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz said at the time. “We want you to be more than.”
Late last year, two Starbucks employees in Oregon were both struck by dirty needles while cleaning bathrooms in the same month, leading to a government investigation.
“The manager confirmed two employees had received needle stick injuries within the last month from hypodermic needles left uncapped in the bathroom, and stated needles and blood had been found in the bathroom at this location for over a year, but the frequency of needles being left in the bathrooms had increased significantly in recent months,” the Oregon OSHA inspection narrative states, according to a report from Business Insider.
Additionally, over 5,000 employees have signed a petition for the coffee giant to place needle disposal units in high risk bathrooms. Ironically, the author of the petition ended up also getting struck by a needle after it launched.
“The author of this petition ended up getting poked by a dirty needle themselves, after two other coworkers were poked in the same cafe, not long after starting this petition. Since then, the author went to local Seattle news crews, and only after their story aired did Starbucks put safe sharps disposals in six cafes in Seattle, but they were only the cafes that already had an L&I complaint and fine about this issue before. The author still has yet to hear directly from anyone at Starbucks Corporate. The author still fully intends on hand-delivering this petition to Starbucks HQ. The author is obnoxiously tenacious like that,” the petition author wrote in an update.
Currently, Starbucks workers are made to remove hypodermic needles themselves and place them in a disposal unit that is not located in the rest room. They are given regular rubber gloves or some times tongs to remove them. They are also told to double-bag trash cans so that the needles are less likely to poke through and stab them.