Founders temporarily closes Detroit taproom

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Courtesy Founders Brewing Co.

Founders Brewing Co. is taking hits from an ongoing lawsuit.

Amid a racial discrimination lawsuit, Grand Rapids-based Founders has chosen to close its Detroit taproom indefinitely, according to a post today on the taproom’s Facebook page.

All Detroit employees will continue to be paid during the "temporary closure," including employees who "plan to protest," the company says.

“We have committed to working closely with our employees to make any changes to the company that need to be made to ensure a positive future,” Founders says. “Those conversations are underway.”

Founders has also cancelled the 2019 debut of CBS in the Detroit taproom. The company says it will issue full refunds to all CBS bottle ticket holders as soon as possible. The CBS bottle release will go on as planned at the Grand Rapids taproom.

The lawsuit against Founders was filed in August 2018 by former Detroit employee Tracey Evans. Evans, who is African-American, alleges co-workers used the N-word around him and labeled segregated office printers, according to the Detroit Free Press. Evans also alleges Founders fired him in retaliation for his complaints to human resources.

A recently obtained deposition transcript reveals a back-and-forth exchange between Founders Detroit General Manager Dominic Ryan and Evans’ attorney Jack Schultz when Schultz repeatedly asks Ryan if he knows Evans is African-American, according to the Detroit Metro Times.

Founders also chose to skip the Detroit Fall Beer Fest this year amid public backlash from the transcript, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Founders Brewing Co. did not immediately respond to requests for comment at press time.

"Founders looks forward to its day in court, and, now that discovery has closed, it is more confident than ever that it will prevail," says Patrick Edsenga, an attorney at Miller Johnson, in a full statement on the deposition for Founders. 

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