This goes back to the principles of Founders. Evans tells Eater by phone on Tuesday that he sees Ryan’s statement in the deposition is a symptom of a larger issue in conversations about race. In the deposition, general manager Dominic Ryan — who said he had known Evans for years, before he started working at Founders — was questioned by Evans’ attorney, Jack Schulz. While it might be acceptable to speculate about this type of thing in casual conversation, Mr. Ryan was not having a casual conversation. Ryan’s exchange with Evans’ attorney Jack Schulz involves a series of questions regarding race, in which Ryan avoids using the word “black.” When Schulz asked whether Ryan knows if Barack Obama, Kwame Kilpatrick, or Michael Jordan are black, Ryan responds to each question by stating he’s never met them. The brewery faced backlash when in a leaked deposition Founders' general manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say whether Evans is … At this point, the Founders manager Dominic Ryan, he’s still with the company? • Founders Brewing Manager Claims He Didn’t Know Black Employee Is Black [MT]• Founders Brewing Co. ... Dominic Ryan didn’t have to pretend he was colorblind in order to make us believe that he wasn’t a … “It’s very well-documented that the only reason that Tracy Evans lost his job was due to performance, it had nothing to do with his race.” - Founders owner Dave Engbers, “We wish that the apologies should have been communicated in a more timely manner,” says Engbers. Facing Backlash for Deposition in Racial Discrimination Case, Tracking the Fallout From Founders Brewing Company’s Racial Discrimination Lawsuit, Founders Brewing to Reopen Detroit Taproom Following Lawsuit Controversy, Detroit Taco Pop-Up Plans New Outpost in the West Side Industrial Neighborhood, Tracking COVID-19 Outbreaks in Michigan’s Food Industry, Detroit Restaurant Saffron De Twah Is Offering Free Holiday Meals to People in Need, Michigan Extends Indoor Dining Closure Through January 15. “We go through these things all the time. What Are Michigan’s COVID-19 Rules for Restaurants and Bars Right Now? We absolutely abhor, we do not tolerate any racism at Founders. When we made the decision as a company to open up a taproom in Detroit, we saw an opportunity, or I should say Tracy saw an opportunity, and applied for a position that I believe close to 300 people applied for. Founders evaluated and decided to terminate Mr. Evans based only on his job performance. We feel like we as a company, our job is to continue to move forward and to celebrate people of all different backgrounds. The settlement was announced after a leaked court deposition between Evans’ lawyer, Jack Schulz, and Founders manager Dominic Ryan, sparked … From a deposition given last year by Dominic Ryan, the general manager of Founders Brewing Company, to Jack Schulz, a lawyer for Tracy Evans. All Rights Reserved. It involves a deposition being given by one of the accused, Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan, to Jack Schulz, the attorney for plaintiff Tracy Evans, with a Founders attorney in attendance… Evans’ Attorney, Jack Schulz: When did you first meet Tracy Evans? Schulz: Have you ever met a Black person born in America? Schulz: Have you ever met Black people who aren’t from Africa? It is not. Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination, Founders Brewing Manager Claims He Didn’t Know Black Employee Is Black, Founders Brewing Co. Founders Brewing Co posted a statement to their website on Friday stating that their Detroit taproom would be closed 'until further notice.' WDET is a community service of Wayne State University. But he says the company stands by its position on the lawsuit, claiming that Evans’ firing was due to poor performance, not racial discrimination. Patrick M. EdsengaAttorney at LawMiller Johnson, Now a year into the lawsuit, Evans tells Eater in an interview that he wishes that Founders had simply acknowledged the problem, apologized, and created a path towards improving the brewery’s work culture. Terms of Use | Online Privacy Policy, talk about his experiences at the brewery. Founders Manager Dominic Ryan: 2011, 2012. >>Online: Full statement from Founders The annual Michigan … Hear Tracy Evans, fired Founders employee alleging racial discrimination, explain the motivations behind his lawsuit. Schulz: So you don’t know him? Michigan’s largest brewery is facing renewed backlash after new details emerged in a racial discrimination lawsuit. Do you know … You don’t know what it means for someone to be a white person or a Black person? Do you know if Michael Jordan is Black? Sometimes things aren’t said right away.”, Over the weekend, Founders diversity director Graci Harkema publicly resigned after nine months on the job, saying the company was “more interested in the optics of my face than the impact of my voice.”. On Monday, Metro Times published a transcript from a … In the event that you will not, I understand that a person unfamiliar with most of the facts in this case, and a person unfamiliar with the obligations that individuals are under when they give deposition testimony, might perceive Mr. Ryan’s statement as noteworthy. And if you have any hesitation, say ‘I don’t know.’. That’s when Ryan denied to confirm that his former employee is black. Founders Manager Dominic Ryan: What do you mean by that? “I don’t know that I could look at myself everyday in the mirror knowing that not only did I not speak out for myself in my situation, but I didn’t speak out to help protect others past, present, and future.”. On Monday, Metro Times published a transcript from a deposition conducted by Evans’ attorney with Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan. Absolutely. That is correct. Dave Engbers, Founders’ owner: I can’t imagine what was going through his head. That’s never been our stance as a company. The fact that Mr. Evans is selectively leaking this type of information to you indicates that, unlike Founders, he has no evidence to support his position in this case. Ryan: So that’s what you’re referring to? Detroit's NPR Station. Schulz: What do you mean lineage, from Africa? Schulz: No? In a deposition regarding Evans' claims, Founders' general manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say whether Evans is black. © Copyright 2020 by WDET and Wayne State University. Founders will soon be providing its full response to Mr. Evans’ claims when it files a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. The defense of Founders’ manager Dominic Ryan denying he knew the race of Tracy Evans. The full transcript is below: Evans’ Attorney, Jack Schulz: When did you first meet Tracy Evans? The author chose not to include our full statement and, as a result, we are opting to share it with you. And we used this as a learning opportunity for that employee. We are working with our teams to see what they think. Founders Attorney: Objection. Your connection to news, music, conversation. As soon as it was brought to our attention, [human resources] was brought in and those employees were spoken to, it was put on their permanent records. We talk about “purposeful progress,” we fully admit that none of us are perfect. The controversy surrounding a racial discrimination lawsuit targeting Founders Brewery continues to grow. By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. Schulz: I mean have you ever looked at Tracy Evans in your entire life? “Going through an experience such as racism is nothing new to people of color,” Evans said. We’ve never gone through anything like this in our 22-year history. That’s never been our stance as a company. Thank you for reaching out to Founders before publishing your column. This morning, Founders co-owner Dave Engbers spoke with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper to address the mounting crisis. Was he coached by Founders’ lawyer at all, to take that defense? Yes. Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination [ED]• All Beer Coverage [ED]• All Lawsuits Coverage [ED]• All Founders Coverage [ED], Founders Manager Claims in Discrimination Lawsuit Deposition He Didn’t Know Employee He Fired Was Black, Sign up for the One of the employees is no longer with us. Schulz: You don’t need any. He admits the company erred in its initial public silence and underestimated the blowback the suit would cause. Ryan: What do you mean “how”? Thankfully, for our entertainment and education, the Detroit Metro Times published excerpts from Ryan’s deposition. newsletter. Schulz: Are you able to identify individuals by their skin tone? That is correct. Edsenga says the legal team says plans to present evidence to the court soon in an effort to get the case dismissed. Tracy Evans doesn’t work at Founders Brewing Co. 100 percent due to his performance. In today’s day and age, you can’t say nothing. Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations, Engbers responses have been transcribed at length below. Schulz: Alright. You’re saying it’s well-documented that this isn’t about race, and that it’s about Tracy Evans poor performance as an employee. Taproom (curbside pickup only): Sunday-Saturday 11am-7pm Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host and producer of CultureShift. Evans says in an interview that it took a long time to get up the courage to speak out in his workplace about things he felt were wrong and that his lawsuit is about helping empower others to do the same. “I by no means want the friends that I love and still hold dear to my heart, that continue to work at Founders, to not be able to afford to pay their mortgage or pay for their child’s braces or sports equipment or not make a living. Evans says he felt it was his responsibility to say something to HR, but was discouraged when the company didn’t seem to take his concerns seriously and eventually pushed him out for questioning the culture. Michelle and Chris Gerard. A former employee, Tracy Evans, filed the complaint last fall alleging that the brewery failed to adequately address its toxic, racist work environment and ultimately fired him for raising concerns. Yes, I know the difference in skin tone. Evans, a black employee who worked at both the Detroit and Grand Rapids locations, claims in the suit that Founders inadequately addressed racist behavior among its workers, including multiple incidents of employees using racial slurs. Following publication of the transcripts on Monday, Founders’ attorney Patrick M. Edsenga of Miller Johnson released a full copy of a statement provided to the Metro Times reporter Tom Perkins. Schulz: And what is the difference of that color? Founders manager Dominic Ryan: 2011, 2012. Schulz: I mean, we could … This could be a one-sentence answer, you know. “We’ve never gone through anything like this in our 22-year history.”. Yes. “People of color and women who are put in these positions, you very rarely want to speak out because you always feel like you are going against the grain, and you always feel like you will be singled out, and you always feel like your job is at risk, your reputation is at risk,” he says. I can promise you that. Vague question. Evans also described “blatantly racist” behavior by management including allegations that the upstairs management printer at the Grand Rapids sites was labeled the “white guy printer” while the ground floor, general employee printer was labeled the “black guy printer.”. It’s very well-documented that the only reason that Tracy Evans lost his job was due to performance, it had nothing to do with his race,” Engbers says. Michigan’s largest beer maker Founders Brewing Company is facing renewed scrutiny arising from an ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit. 235 Grandville Ave. SW Grand Rapids, MI 49503. “He just displayed what is part of the larger picture and that is the blind eye towards racism. “How can you as a person, a company, a corporation, an individual — how can you understand and have sympathy or empathy for the things that minority people of color or women go through at your establishment, if you can’t even admit and can’t even acknowledge and know that these people are minorities?”. We use cookies and other tracking technologies to improve your browsing experience on our site, show personalized content and targeted ads, analyze site traffic, and understand where our audiences come from. Attorneys for Founders maintain that Evans was fired not because of his race, but because of poor job performance. Update, Nov. 1, 2019: Founder’s has settled the racial discrimination case with plaintiff Tracy Evans, with neither party admitting fault. This is the reason for his answer. Ryan: I’ve never met Barack Obama so I don’t …. Evans says that he plans to start building funding for that project soon and invites people who need help to email the organization at itsnotrightmovement@gmail.com. Please see below for a full statement regarding the recent Detroit Metro Times article provided by our legal counsel. At the time we had a zero tolerance policy. The deposition between Founders’ general manager Dominic Ryan and Evans’ attorney contains a frustratingly ridiculous exchange where Ryan asserts that he was unaware that Evans was black. Last week, a deposition from a lawsuit alleging that Founders Brewing Co. fired an African-American employee because of his race leaked to the MetroTimes, which published it and reignited a controversy surrounding Michigan’s largest brewer. 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