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In the New Orleans area, 25 of the 35 Starbucks sites will close at 2:30 p.m.

The training was not mandatory, but the company expects nearly all of its employees to participate.

Since the incident, Starbucks has instituted a "Third Place" policy in which customers are "welcome to use Starbucks spaces, including our restrooms, cafes and patios, regardless of whether they make a purchase".

American Airlines announced previous year that it would train 120,000 employees after the civil rights group NAACP warned against "a pattern of disturbing incidents" reported by African-American passengers specific to the company.

Last month, two men-Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson-sat down in a Philadelphia Starbucks.

Black leaders who are advising Starbucks Corp on its anti-bias training programme, hope it will reinvigorate decades-old efforts to ensure minorities get equal treatment in restaurants and stores, setting an example for other corporations.

"I think it's a wonderful gesture actually". The crucial decision to temporarily shut down came after a Starbucks manager in Philadelphia called the cops on two black male customers who were sitting in the establishment waiting for a friend.

"How can sensitivity training hurt?" said Rodriguez. The pair also reached a separate deal with Philadelphia, for $1 each and the promise of a public high school program for young entrepreneurs. If customers are disruptive, employees have been advised to step in.

- Over 8,000 Starbucks company-owned stores across the country will close Tuesday afternoon for what the company is calling "a conversation and learning session on race, bias and the building of a diverse welcoming company".

Calvin Lai, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Washington University, also says anti-bias training can sometimes backfire. It is working with volunteer advisers including Heather McGhee, president of social advocacy organization Demos, and Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Starbucks apologized for the incident, which sparked protests, online outrage, and calls for both clarifications of the chain's policies and for new training for its employees.

But one Australian expert says the training - which will include a talk by the rapper Common - is unlikely to work.


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