Reddit user KarmaPurgePlus posted on the Sacramento subreddit April 16 that Temple Coffee Roasters sent an email to all staff indicating that wearing protective facial masks during the coronavirus pandemic violated the company’s dress code. Temple faced immediate backlash from Sacramento residents on the platform, and the company has been taking steps to change public perception since.
“It’s during times of crises people/businesses’ real values show. Temple has made a choice to deny their employees face masks because of an excuse that it violates company dress code,” wrote user ykaur. “Temple has lost my business.”
Reddit user chunkieasain noticed that Sean Kohmescher, the company’s owner, may not understand why protective masks are being used in the coffee industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Others, like user SpockData, insisted that users reach out en masse to Temple’s senior staff. The company quickly offered an apology on Instagram and has since indicated that employees are now allowed to wear protective masks.
However, many Reddit and Instagram users continued to voice their opinions, with many suggesting that the apology was insincere and that an undue amount of blame was being put on Will Talbot, the company’s office manager and sole HR employee.
“It is clear you do not care about your employees and the hard work they provide by worried about a ridiculous ‘dress code’ more than the health and safety on your employees,” wrote Instagram user Matt Gross in a comment on Temple’s apology. “Additionally, your ‘recommendation’ to file for unemployment if they do not agree shows you were attempting to strong arm them into compliance.”
Instagram user gnawhnairb commented on the same post and stated, “I’m not sure I buy the ‘it was a rogue employee!’ excuse. At best, you were incompetent by letting one person publish an un-vetted letter. At worst, you actually approved this awful policy, jeopardized the health of many, and are now trying to lie and cover it up The Sacramento coffee scene is rich and diverse, and I will be taking my business elsewhere for the time being.”
After the backlash to the initial apology, Bob Moffitt of Sacramento’s local NPR station reported that Kohmesher will be stepping aside at Temple, and the company issued a second apology on Instagram April 18, which indicated that the Temple’s director of retail operations, Shannon Loudon, would take over as chief operating officer in Kohmesher’s absence.
Temple has been open since 2005 and currently operates seven retail locations and a roasting facility in the Sacramento region.