Witness speaks out amid sexual assault allegations against Four Barrel Coffee


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON)–One Four Barrel Coffee location in San Francisco was closed on Sunday, just two days after women filed a lawsuit against the company and its founder.

KRON4’s Spencer Blake says the coffee shop on Valencia Street was locked up with a sign on the door that read: ” We are closed today, taking care of each other.

One witness told Spencer, the lawsuit is more than just allegations of assault and harassment. It also talks about a toxic work environment for employees, particularly women.

Umeko Motoyoshi worked for Four Barrel Coffee for more than two years. She started back in 2013.

Motoyoshi is listed as a witness in the suit, which accuses the founder, Jeremy Tooker of sexual misconduct. Allegedly, Tooker did sexually explicit things like grabbing the breasts of a female co-owners and shaking them in front of other workers.

The document also says employees were forced to play a game in which they chose to either kiss or slap Tooker at a work function.

On Saturday, Co-owner Jodi Geren and Tal Mor released a statement on the allegations brought forth:

“To our valued Four Barrel Employees, Customers, and Friends,

We have reviewed the lawsuit filed on Friday. We take it very seriously and are deeply saddened. Four Barrel will not tolerate inappropriate behavior in the workplace. It’s essential that our employees and co-workers understand that they are valued and respected. We will continue to take prompt action to address any and all employee concerns, as we have done in the past.

While we investigate the matter, we want to note that Jeremy Tooker withdrew as CEO in November, before this lawsuit was filed. He also has agreed to divest his remaining ownership in the company, regardless of the outcome of the investigation. He is no longer an employee of Four Barrel and will not be affiliated with the company moving forward.

Due to the lawsuit, we can’t comment as fully as we would like, but we can say this: we take issue with the claims being asserted in the lawsuit, and the mischaracterization of our current culture.

We stand with women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and others who are frequently ignored, unheard, or unprotected in our society. We stand with those fighting every day to make workplaces safe, supportive and equal. We’re doing our part where we can have the quickest and surest effect: our own company.

We have engaged an outside HR firm to enact procedures to facilitate reporting of any concerns by employees. While we implement these changes, all of us at FourBarrel will continue to do what we love doing: supporting coffee producers, hand-roasting incredible coffees, and offering an exceptional hospitality experience.

Four Barrel is the hard work, dedication, and collaborative efforts of everyone aboard that have made it what it is today. Four Barrel is the baristas. The roasters. The venerable wholesale team. The amazing production crew. And the incredible farmers with whom we’ve worked for years. We have positively impacted communities the world over and have brought equity and sustainability to the table in a real way. We will continue to be one of the leaders in our industry, in every way we are able.

Thank you to our employees for your continuing hard work, and thank you to our patrons and supporters in the coffee community for your continued faith in us.”More 

 Mor and Geren point out that Tooker withdrew as CEO of the company back in Nov. before the suit was filed.
Motoyoshi says the response from the community has been positive. She hopes it empowers others to speak up when they see abuse.
“Anyone going into Four Barrel, be sensitive to the baristas working there because they’re probably dealing with a lot,” she said.



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