A company email sent to Starbucks employees last week made it clear that they should not wear clothes or accessories that show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
The memo, which has been obtained by BuzzFeed News, reminded employees that merchandise with certain messages was prohibited if it “advocated a political, religious or personal issue.”
Certain employees took fault with the memo, saying that Starbucks allows employees to show support for the LGBTQ movement by wearing pins, particularly during Pride Month in June.
“Starbucks LGBTQ+ partners wear LGBTQ+ pins and shirts, that also could incite and create violent experiences amongst partners and customers,” a black transgender Starbucks employee told BuzzFeed. “We have partners who experienced harassment and transphobia/homophobia for wearing their pins and shirts, and Starbucks still stands behind them.”
“We know your intent is genuine and understand how personal this is for so many of us. This is important and we hear you,” the memo stated.
According to reports, a video message from a top executive at the popular coffee chain was attached to the memo and warned that “agitators who misconstrue the fundamental principles” of the movement could potentially “amplify divisiveness” in stores.
A spokesperson for Starbucks confirmed the legitimacy of the memo to BuzzFeed, saying the company is dedicated to ending “systemic racism,” but such messages have been prohibited in an effort “to create a safe and welcoming” environment at each location.
“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,” said the spokesperson.