Michigan’s largest beer maker Founders Brewing Company is facing an ongoing lawsuit filed by a black former employee in 2018. The plaintiff, Tracy Evans, alleges he witnessed multiple racist incidents during the three years he worked for the company. He claims in the suit that he was passed over for promotions and fired after filing a complaint about a fellow employee using racial slurs with Founders’ human resources department. Founders denies the claims and argues that Evans’ employment was terminated because of poor performance.
In October 2019, a transcript of a depositions made by Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan leaked to the Metro Times. In it, Ryan claims he doesn’t know if Evans, the employee he fired, is black. The transcript renewed public outcry over the lawsuit. Detroit-based breweries pulled out of a local beer festival at which Founders was a participant. Founders — currently in the process of transferring a 90 percent ownership stake to Mahou San Miguel — backed out of the event. Other restaurants and bars in Southeast Michigan and beyond are now refusing to sell Founders beer. The lawsuit is due to go to court in October 2020.