Midwestern Brewery Whose Manager Basically Claimed He Didn’t See Black People Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Illustration for article titled Midwestern Brewery Whose Manager Basically Claimed He Didn’t See Black People Settles Racial Discrimination Lawsuit
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A prominent Midwestern brewery has settled a discrimination lawsuit with a former employee who claimed he was fired after reporting various incidents of racial discrimination at the business.


Tracy Evans’ lawsuit against Detroit-based Founders Brewing attracted national attention when one of its managers in a deposition claimed he “couldn’t be sure what constituted a black person” without meeting them, according to the Chicago Tribune. The manager even went so far as to proclaim that he was unsure of the race of prominent black Chicagoans Michael Jordan and Barack Obama—because he had never met them.


While Founders Brewing maintained it fired Evans for cause, following the deposition, the company began getting more of a side eye, according to the Tribune.

In his lawsuit, Evans claimed, per the Tribune, that:

he was fired after reporting racial discrimination that included repeated use of the “N word” and one printer being labeled “white guy printer” and another labeled as the “black guy printer.” In the lawsuit, Evans alleged he was subject to a “racist internal corporate culture” at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, brewery that had enjoyed a longtime prominence in Chicago and throughout the Midwest.

On Thursday, the company and Evans announced that they had reached a settlement.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, according to WXYZ ABC 7, but Founders Brewing did not admit wrongdoing.


“We are committed to moving the cause of diversity and inclusion forward for Founders,” the company said in part in a statement, WXYZ reports. “We abhor discriminatory action of any type and believe that beer should bring people together and not divide.”

For his part, Evans, in a statement, said it was important to have taken a stand against what he felt was injustice.


“I want the world to know the power we have when we step forward and make ourselves heard,” he said, according to WXYZ.

“I know that ‘seeing color’ and valuing people for who they are, and their collections of experiences, is the mission,” Evans continued. “Learning from our mistakes is also part of the mission.”



Correction: Founders is Grand Rapid’s-based, which is a big part of the story.

A bunch of beer colonizing Grand Rapidians thought they could come to Detroit - the blackest big city in the country - and continue their racist bullshit corporate culture in the heart of the city, and no one would speak up.

The hubris of this, and then that they didn’t know how to handle the case, is both not surprising, but nonetheless shocking.

BTW, Founders shut down their Detroit taproom and were forced to pull out of a bunch of festivals and events over this. This was a masterclass in how not to handle a racism controversy.