Starbucks Customer Throws Away Drink After Manager Takes Down Pride Flag

Starbucks is reportedly failing to protect its LGBTQ+ employees, and customers aren't having it.

Screenshots from @sbworkersunited TikTok @sbworkersunited / TikTok

This pride month, Starbucks workers across the country are striking “over Starbucks’ refusal to bargain over changes in pride decoration policies in addition to their illegal union-busting campaign impacting queer workers.”

The union has accused Starbucks of banning pride decorations in stores. While Starbucks has denied these claims, employees have posted an overwhelming number of instances where managers and corporate higher-ups have removed or banned Pride decorations in their stores.


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A TikTok posted by Starbucks employees shows a customer getting rid of her drink after a district manager took down a pride flag.

Earlier this month, a video of a Starbucks district manager in Ohio garnered millions of views. In the TikTok, the manager was being confronted by a community member holding a pride flag. Apparently, Starbucks had taken down all pride decorations in the store, and when community members showed up with their own pride decorations, this manager tore them down.


When a customer approached her and asked if she took down the flag, the manager responded by saying “Yes I did.” Upon hearing this, the customer handed off her drink.

“I literally only came here because of that support,” the customer told the manager. “I’m not going to drink that. I go to Dunkin… When I saw the flag was up, I bought a drink. I’d just rather not drink it now.”

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Comments on the TikTok included some people sharing their own experiences with Starbucks. While one employee shared that her store gave its employees pride shirts and pins and even held a pride event, this wasn’t the case for everyone.


“The store by me had the flag up for so long and then were told to also take it down. Now I make my own coffee at home. I feel so bad for the employees,” one commenter said. “They literally don’t let us show who we are at all,” said another. “They want us to bring our genuine selves as partners, and then they don’t let us create a safe space.”

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"Starbucks is denying that they made partners take down pride decorations," the video's caption reads. "If that’s true, Starbucks, then what is this district manager doing?"

Striking Starbucks employees are refusing to let the company continue to benefit from its public image as a supporter of LGBTQ+ rights while failing to protect its queer employees. Besides its inconsistent policies regarding pride decorations, the company has also retaliated against unionized employees by cutting hours, which means that those employees can’t access healthcare (including gender-affirming care). According to employees, Starbucks has used other union-busting intimidation tactics such as withholding credit card tips and threatening to take away benefits.


If Starbucks is really as committed to LGBTQ+ rights as they claim to be, the company should listen to its employees and support its queer workers.

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Jessica Bracken is a writer living in Davis, California. She covers entertainment and news for YourTango.