Founders closes Detroit taproom over lawsuit controversy

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Founders Brewing Co. is shutting down its Detroit taproom amid controversy about a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination.

The taproom made the announcement on its Facebook page Friday morning, saying it would be closed until further notice. Founders promised all its workers would still be paid.

“As has been reported in recent days, Founders has experienced some challenges at its Detroit taproom,” the Facebook post reads in part. “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.”

Also this week, Founders dropped out of this weekend’s Michigan Brewers Guilt Detroit Fall Beer Festival.

The Grand Rapids-based brewery is being sued by former employee Tracy Evans. Evans, who is black, claims he was watched more closely and disciplined more harshly than his white co-workers. He also said his co-workers used racial slurs toward him.

Earlier this week, the Detroit Metro Times released a long portion of a deposition transcript in which Dominic Ryan, general manager for the brewery in Detroit, was evasive when asked to say whether he knew Evans was black.

In response, Founders released a statement from its attorney to the author of the Metro Times article saying that “Ryan was simply saying that he does not assume anything about individuals’ race or ethnicity unless they tell him that information.”

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