The defense of Founders’ manager Dominic Ryan denying he knew the race of Tracy Evans. Schulz: So you don’t know him? On Friday, Tracy Evans — the former promotions and events manager at Founders’ Detroit taproom — joined CultureShift to talk about his experiences at the brewery and what motivated him to file a lawsuit. This morning, Founders co-owner Dave Engbers spoke with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper to address the mounting crisis. 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. Yes. 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. Schulz: To your knowledge, was Kwame Kilpatrick Black? In the leaked deposition, Evans' Attorney, Jack Schulz, asked Founders' Manager Dominic Ryan, "Are you aware Tracy is African American?" On Monday, Metro Times published a transcript from a deposition conducted by Evans’ attorney with Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan. “You will never hear those words, as far as ‘boycott Founders,’ ever come out of my mouth.”. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. “Going through an experience such as racism is nothing new to people of color,” Evans said. “Enough was enough,” he says. Mr. Evans’ poor job performance will be apparent when Founders files its upcoming motion. Read the statement here. Ryan Patrick Hooper, CultureShift: Do you think that’s something people don’t deserve to know was said? In it, Founders general manager Dominic Ryan said he didn't know the employee suing him is black. 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. 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. I mean, like, I don’t know his DNA. 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. The on-going saga with Michigan’s Founders Brewing continued yesterday when Graci Harkema, who was hired in January to serve as the brewery’s Diversity and Inclusion Director, announced via social media that she had submitted her two weeks notice to resign from the company. “We go through these things all the time. Of course we know Tracy Evans is black. Founders Brewing Company in Detroit. We talk about “purposeful progress,” we fully admit that none of us are perfect. We put him on a program to get some coaching, to get some additional training. Attorneys for Founders maintain that Evans was fired not because of his race, but because of poor job performance. newsletter. 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. 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.”. Schulz: Have you ever met a Black person born in America? His feature reporting received a 2020 Regional Murrow award. Founders Manager Dominic Ryan: What do you mean by that? The Founders Brewing fallout is a result of of a deeper systemic issue, in order to create a more inclusive workplace, you must actively become a more inclusive workplace. The statement said Founders was confident it would come out on top in the lawsuit. In the exchange Ryan, who fired Evans, claims he didn’t know Evans was black. Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination, Founders Brewing Manager Claims He Didn’t Know Black Employee Is Black, Founders Brewing Co. Detroit's NPR Station. Dave Engbers, Founders’ owner: I can’t imagine what was going through his head. Third, through this testimony, Mr. Ryan was simply saying that he does not assume anything about individuals’ race or ethnicity unless they tell him that information. Schulz: I mean have you ever looked at Tracy Evans in your entire life? Dominic has 3 jobs listed on their profile. At this point, the Founders manager Dominic Ryan, he’s still with the company? Harkema’s decision comes amid on-going litigation between Tracy Evans, and Founders Brewing around Evans’ … You mentioned in an interview with the Detroit Free Press that you are very confident in the case. The full transcript is below: Evans’ Attorney, Jack Schulz: When did you first meet Tracy Evans? Schulz: I mean, we could … This could be a one-sentence answer, you know. Are you aware that Tracy is a man of color? Here’s the latest updates. I would ask that you reserve judgment or comment on this case until you actually see the evidence presented by the parties. Schulz: No? Evans’ Attorney, Jack Schulz: OK, are you aware Tracy is Black? Founders will soon be providing its full response to Mr. Evans’ claims when it files a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety. Taproom (curbside pickup only): Sunday-Saturday 11am-7pm While it might be acceptable to speculate about this type of thing in casual conversation, Mr. Ryan was not having a casual conversation. We absolutely abhor, we do not tolerate any racism at Founders. This is about a worldly issue that continues to happen all the time.”, The deposition have ignited new anger in the Michigan beer community. “We’ve never gone through anything like this in our 22-year history.”. Schulz: Have you ever met Black people who aren’t from Africa? What about Kwame Kilpatrick? Ryan: That’s not … I mean, is his skin different from mine? I can’t speculate on what Dominic was thinking. 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. At the time we had a zero tolerance policy. Update, Nov. 1, 2019: Founder’s has settled the racial discrimination case with plaintiff Tracy Evans, with neither party admitting fault. “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. So by your … I guess your testimony is you have no idea if Tracy is a minority, if he’s African-American? On Monday, Metro Times published a transcript from a … The author chose not to include our full statement and, as a result, we are opting to share it with you. Yes. Evans alleges that in 2018, he was eventually terminated for filing a complaint with human resources. Schulz: Are you aware Tracy is African-American? Founders President Dave Engbers says the taproom, on Charlotte Street off Cass Avenue, will remain closed Friday until at least Tuesday due to what he calls a "tense situation." Thankfully, for our entertainment and education, the Detroit Metro Times published excerpts from Ryan’s deposition. Attorneys for Founders maintain that Evans was fired not because of his race, but because of poor job performance. We’ve never gone through anything like this in our 22-year history. All Rights Reserved. There were instances that Founders acknowledges that there were fellow employees of his that used the “N” word in his presence, and at least one of those employees is still hired by the company. ... Dominic Ryan didn’t have to pretend he was colorblind in order to make us believe that he wasn’t a … MLive cites a Detroit Metro Times report that says Founders general manager Dominic Ryan, who fired Evans, told Evans’ lawyer in a case disposition … Hear Tracy Evans, fired Founders employee alleging racial discrimination, explain the motivations behind his lawsuit. Michelle and Chris Gerard. We are working to really hone our policy down. Vague question. Schulz: And did you ever realize that Tracy’s skin [is] Black? He was under oath when he made these statements. Schulz: Are you able to identify individuals by their skin tone? The settlement was announced after a leaked court deposition between Evans’ lawyer, Jack Schulz, and Founders manager Dominic Ryan, sparked … This is the reason for his answer. Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations, Engbers responses have been transcribed at length below. Founders Attorney: Objection. It has nothing to do with his race. No, Tracy worked on our packaging line and worked his way up to become a lead packager. Schulz: Alright. A white …. 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. 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. At the company, we felt it best… we’ve relieved Dominic of all of his responsibilities as it pertains to the Detroit taproom. We saw it as a good opportunity for Tracy and he got the job. It is not. Founders evaluated and decided to terminate Mr. Evans based only on his job performance. Founders Attorney: Objection. Schulz: And you were able … Have you ever met a Black person who didn’t tell you they were Black? Offices (616) 776-2182. And if you have any hesitation, say ‘I don’t know.’. That’s when Ryan denied to confirm that his former employee is black. It’s not necessarily a zero tolerance policy, because the one employee is still there. Facing Backlash for Deposition in Racial Discrimination Case [Freep]• Statement Regarding Metro Times Article [Founders]• Former Founders Brewing Co. In a deposition regarding Evans' claims, Founders' general manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say whether Evans is black. Michigan’s largest brewery is facing renewed backlash after new details emerged in a racial discrimination lawsuit. From a deposition given last year by Dominic Ryan, the general manager of Founders Brewing Company, to Jack Schulz, a lawyer for Tracy Evans. Ryan: I’ve never met Barack Obama so I don’t …. Evans called Ryan's comments "completely offensive" and was surprised by the exchange—at one point, he and Ryan had been friends. Ryan: What do you mean “how”? Schulz: So you don’t know if Barack Obama is Black? I can’t speculate on what Dominic was thinking. Update, 9:59 a.m., October 23, 2019: This story has been updated with a statement on the boycott by EMBC from the Michigan Brewers Guild. What about Michael Jordan? Yes, I know the difference in skin tone. 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. Do you know … You don’t know what it means for someone to be a white person or a Black person? Dianna Stampfler, a publicist for the Michigan Brewers Guild, responded to requests by Eater for comment in an email on Wednesday, stating: “Occasionally we have brewery members drop out of a festival, and while that is unfortunate, the celebration this weekend will be about all the great Michigan breweries and beers that are present.”, Evans says that while consumers and fellow brewers are free to take whatever action they feel is necessary, he isn’t calling for the cancelation of Founders. “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.”. That is correct. An owner of Founders Brewing Company gave the brewery’s first official interview to … 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. See the complete profile on LinkedIn and discover Dominic’s connections and jobs at similar companies. Dave Engbers, Founders’ owner: I can’t imagine what was going through his head. One of the employees is no longer with us. “I have tried to reason with Founders and they continue to want to deny these things and look at it from their own perspective,” he says. 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. Evans is African-American. At least one Detroit brewer, Eastern Market Brewing Co., has announced plans to boycott this weekend’s Detroit Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market where Founders is a participant. He worked there for about 4 years. “He just displayed what is part of the larger picture and that is the blind eye towards racism. This goes back to the principles of Founders. That was … Schulz: OK, are you aware Tracy is Black? The details of that firing have come under heavy scrutiny, however, since a transcript of an exchange between Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan and Evan’s attorney Jack Schulz has come to light. And we’ve asked him to take some time off until we can figure out what’s best for him and for the company. 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 This Material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form. That’s never been our stance as a company. 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.”. The brewery faced backlash when in a leaked deposition Founders' general manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say whether Evans is … “It’s time to start saying something,” he says. “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. WDET is a community service of Wayne State University. Unfortunately, during the time while he was down in Detroit, he was asked to do his duties, [they] weren’t being done to the satisfaction of the company. In preparation for a possible jury trial, Schulz deposed three Founders managers, including Ryan, on Sept. 25 of this year. Michigan’s largest beer maker Founders Brewing Company is facing renewed scrutiny arising from an ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit. Unfortunately, after the personal development program that he was put on, he still didn’t hit the benchmarks that we had put in place and he had to be let go. Do you know if Michael Jordan is Black? That is not in my agenda,” he says. Have you? That’s a … that’s a genuine question. The controversy surrounding a racial discrimination lawsuit targeting Founders Brewery continues to grow. That’s never been our stance as a company. Schulz: OK, So you knew Tracy prior to his employment at Founders? 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. 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