Temple Coffee Roasters is apologizing for an email—which it now says wasn’t approved and included misinformation—that told employees that wearing a face mask during the COVID-19 pandemic violates the company’s dress code.
The email, sent by office manager Will Talbot, began circulating on social media on Wednesday. SN&R was tipped off by a Temple employee who wished to remain anonymous. Screenshots of the email stated, “At this time Sacramento and Yolo County have not mandated that masks be worn at this time and Temple does not allow the use of masks in our cafes as it violates dress code.”
While masks aren’t required, local and federal public health officials are recommending wearing them in public places where social distancing is difficult. Masks are commonplace in grocery stores, coffee shops and cafes.
Employees at Temple Coffee’s human resources line declined to comment, but on Thursday morning, creative director Vincent Sosa issued a statement to SN&R:
“The email that was sent out to employees yesterday afternoon included misinformation and miscommunications, and it was not approved by Temple Coffee Operations. Our company supports our team members’ choice to wear face coverings and will be providing face coverings for teams to use while working. The health and safety of our team members and our community is our top priority, and we will continue to maintain all current health and safety protocols and procedures. Our company will make a public statement to address this situation later today.”
Response to the email on social media spread quickly as dozens of people shared it on Instagram, Twitter and Reddit. In one public Facebook post, a customer said she wouldn’t go to Temple any more if the email were true. “Temple Coffee Roasters Is this really an appropriate time to enforce dress code over employee and customer safety? Is your brand’s ‘aesthetic’ more important than human lives and a safe work environment?”
Asked whether employees were allowed to wear masks before Talbot’s email drew criticism on social media from longtime customers, Sosa responded:
“When the CDC first recommended wearing face coverings, some of our team members began wearing face coverings voluntarily, which our company fully supported. Before the email, there was never any instruction or language that stated otherwise. Regarding the email, actions are currently being taken to ensure that such miscommunications are not made again.”
Temple later posted a statement on its Facebook page:
“Over the past 14 years, we have had the privilege to serve our communities thanks to our amazing team members who work to make this a possibility every day. We are deeply saddened and disappointed by the company email that was sent out to team members yesterday. The email included misinformation and miscommunications regarding our current health and safety protocols and policies. The email should not have been sent out and was not approved by Temple Operations. It is not a reflection of any of our procedures and policies currently in place. Its contents were inexcusable, and we sincerely apologize.
“We take the safety and concerns of our community extremely seriously. We have and will continue to maintain all health and safety measures to protect our team members and customers. During this time of uncertainty, it’s important now more than ever that we continue to support our team members and our community. Our company supports our team members’ choice to wear face coverings and will be providing face coverings for team members to use while working. We appreciate your support and understanding.”
Late Thursday, CapRadio reported that Temple founder Sean Kohmescher told employees he was “stepping aside.” In an email obtained by CapRadio, he wrote that he would be giving “100 percent authority on all company-wide decisions” to its director of retail operations.
Yet, in the midst of this PR fiasco, they still refuse to state that Temple Coffee Roaster’s policy requires the use of PPE masks. Instead they suggest it’s a matter of choice.