EXCLUSIVE: Starbucks apologizes to Black San Francisco for alleged discrimination incident in its San Jose store

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) – Another treatment for skin color, a black man from San Francisco told him at a San Jose Starbucks. Now the company apologizes and retrains the employees.

“Come right up to me, point to the door and say I need you outside. And right now, man, it’s embarrassing. It’s irritating. Humiliating. Why me?” Bryce Ward said exclusively to ABC7 News.

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Starbucks is now apologizing to Ward after being told to leave the cafe on Mckee Road in San Jose while waiting for his order.

He said he stayed in the store after two women left. According to his logic, the place was no longer full.

Ward sent ABC7 News a receipt stating he was in store and went shopping around 9:30 a.m. on March 15

Ward said a manager told him that the store was at full capacity under Santa Clara County’s COVID restrictions and that he had to leave the store.

He said other customers were allowed to enter the store and he believes he was targeted for being black.

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“I was the only black person there. I don’t know what was on her mind,” said Ward.

Santa Clara County is currently on the red line for reopening, which means retail stores are capped at 50% capacity.

The county’s health officials announced Tuesday that the county will soon switch to the orange tier to reopen, allowing for greater capacity in businesses.

“You see all the traffic in and out and you haven’t said anything to anyone? Why are you lifting me up?” He said.

After the incident, the San Francisco barber took to Instagram to share his experience.

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ABC7 News reached out to Starbucks for comment and received the following statement:

“We do not tolerate any discrimination in our branches and never want a customer to feel discriminated against. We apologize to Mr. Ward for his experience and have trained employees on how to respectfully comply with the health and safety capacity limits of partners and Customers. “

A Starbucks spokesman told ABC7 News that “the company has no video of the incident” even though surveillance cameras are in operation.

“How convenient it is that the main piece of evidence that corroborates what happened here and is likely to turn into viral video once it is released cannot be found,” said Adante Pointer, Oakland civil rights attorney.

The situation sounds similar to a 2018 incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks location where two black men were arrested for refusing to leave a store. The men asked to use the store’s toilet but were turned down because they had not made a purchase.

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Outrage led to the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks on Twitter and nationwide anti-bias training for employees.

“We need to hear from the people at the top because the top sets the tone for the rest of the organization,” said Pointer.

While additional training has already been conducted at the site in question, a Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that additional training is planned for eleven stores across the South Bay district.

“I just want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Ward.

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