According to BuzzFeed News, an internal memo sent to Starbucks employees last week specifically warned their employees against wearing accessories or clothes bearing messages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The memo went on to remind staffers that such messages are prohibited under their company policy, which prohibits against accessories that “advocated a political, religious or personal issue.”
Despite those policies being in place, multiple employees told Buzzfeed that the company regularly allows–or even encourages–employees to wear pins in support of other movements like LGBTQ equality, especially during Pride Month every June.
“Starbucks LGBTQ+ partners wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts, that also could incite and create violent experiences amongst partners and customers,” a Black transgender employee of the chain told BuzzFeed. “We have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them.”
A video that was sent along with the memo reportedly warned employees that “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of the movement could seek to “amplify divisiveness” if the messages are displayed in stores.
When confirming the memo’s authenticity to the publication, a company spokesperson said that such messages are prohibited “to create a safe and welcoming” environment at all Starbucks locations. “We respect all of our partners’ opinions and beliefs, and encourage them to bring their whole selves to work while adhering to our dress code policy,” the spokesperson said.
Here’s what people on Twitter had to say following this news: