Founders Brewing and Tracy Evans recently agreed to settle the racial discrimination suit Evans filed against the brewery in 2018.
Founders Brewing Company agreed to settle a racial discrimination suit that was filed against it by a former employee, Tracy Evans. Though the lawsuit has been dismissed, the specific terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. When commenting on the settlement that was announced yesterday, Evans said:
“I want the world to know the power we have when we step forward and make ourselves heard. Upon hearing us, businesses also have the power to make changes or not. I don’t know what happens from here within the doors of Founders Brewing Co. I do know this; we have legal resolution and we have started looking at how ALL of this is affecting human lives.”
What happened, though? Why was the lawsuit filed in the first place? For starters, the suit was filed by Evans, an African American, back in August 2018 over allegations that the Grand Rapids-based brewery “tolerated a racist internal corporate culture.” For example, the suit alleged that “multiple Founders employees used racial slurs around Evans, who filed an official complaint with the company’s human resources department in the fall of 2017.” Additionally, he began expressing “his frustrations to management that the employees involved continued to make racist comments and had planned to use a personal day on June 1, 2018, to travel to Grand Rapids to make a second formal complaint to human resources,” according to the suit. However, that trip was delayed when he decided to meet with his manager to go over a project. Days later, he was terminated due to what the company called poor performance.
“Through recent discussions with Tracy, we listened, engaged in self-discovery, and reached common ground to make amends. We agreed that nobody be viewed at fault here. Most importantly, this serves as an opportunity to place our full attention on the work we now have to do, as a company of more than 600 dedicated team members, to rebuild our relationships…We are committed to moving the cause of diversity and inclusion forward for Founders…We want every employee to feel valued, respected and safe. We abhor discriminatory action of any type and believe that beer should bring people together and not divide.”
Evans chimed in and said that while he doesn’t know Stevens’ and Engbers plans for the future, he knows “that ‘seeing color’ and valuing people for who they are, and their collection of experiences is the mission.” He added, “Learning from our mistakes is also part of the mission. Founders as a whole made some bad choices. I, as an individual, made some mistakes but on this day we look to move forward.”