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. In the meantime, Evans says he’s focusing his efforts on developing an organization called It’s Not Right to help advocate for people who’ve been harassed or discriminated against in their workplace. “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.”. And it’s so sensitive. The full transcript is below: Evans’ Attorney, Jack Schulz: When did you first meet Tracy Evans? • Founders Brewing Manager Claims He Didn’t Know Black Employee Is Black [MT]• Founders Brewing Co. We are working to really hone our policy down. Schulz: What do you mean lineage, from Africa? The defense of Founders’ manager Dominic Ryan denying he knew the race of Tracy Evans. Brewery. Please also read our Privacy Notice and Terms of Use, which became effective December 20, 2019. On Monday, Metro Times published a transcript from a … Founders evaluated and decided to terminate Mr. Evans based only on his job performance. Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations, Engbers responses have been transcribed at length below. That is correct. Schulz: To your knowledge, was Kwame Kilpatrick Black? We absolutely abhor, we do not tolerate any racism at Founders. And if you have any hesitation, say ‘I don’t know.’. Do you know … You don’t know what it means for someone to be a white person or a Black person? 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. Employee Files Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination, Founders Brewing Manager Claims He Didn’t Know Black Employee Is Black, Founders Brewing Co. Hear Tracy Evans, fired Founders employee alleging racial discrimination, explain the motivations behind his lawsuit. “Going through an experience such as racism is nothing new to people of color,” Evans said. >>Online: Full statement from Founders The annual Michigan … We’ve never gone through anything like this in our 22-year history. That was … Michigan’s largest brewery is facing renewed backlash after new details emerged in a racial discrimination lawsuit. View Dominic Ryan’s profile on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional community. Someone’s skin color. 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. We are working with our teams to see what they think. Schulz: I mean, we could … This could be a one-sentence answer, you know. This is about a worldly issue that continues to happen all the time.”, The deposition have ignited new anger in the Michigan beer community. A white …. That’s a … that’s a genuine question. “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?”. It’s a different color. Your connection to news, music, conversation. The, ‘I don’t see color,’” he says. 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. 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. 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." “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. Schulz: Have you ever met Black people who aren’t from Africa? He worked there for about 4 years. And we’ve asked him to take some time off until we can figure out what’s best for him and for the company. Dominic has 3 jobs listed on their profile. “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. The response denies that race or retaliation played into Evans’ termination as events and promotions manager at Founders Detroit’s taproom. From what I believe, I’m sure he was coached to answer every question that you absolutely know to be true. This goes back to the principles of Founders. Ryan makes the same unfathomable claim with regards to Barack Obama, Michael Jordan, and Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. This morning, Founders co-owner Dave Engbers spoke with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper to address the mounting crisis. Of course we know Tracy Evans is black. Founders Attorney: Objection. Taproom (616) 776-1195 Taproom Hours. This is the reason for his answer. Evans alleges that in 2018, he was eventually terminated for filing a complaint with human resources. 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. Are you aware that Tracy is a man of color? In preparation for a possible jury trial, Schulz deposed three Founders managers, including Ryan, on Sept. 25 of this year. “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. Schulz: OK, are you aware Tracy is Black? It was probably smart on the part of Founders Brewing Co. to quickly settle with former black employee Tracy Evans after an explosive deposition in a … Here’s the latest updates. 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. Ryan: OK. I can promise you that. “He just displayed what is part of the larger picture and that is the blind eye towards racism. Absolutely. In today’s day and age, you can’t say nothing. Founders will soon be providing its full response to Mr. Evans’ claims when it files a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety. Ryan: So that’s what you’re referring to? It has nothing to do with his race. Ryan: No. Have you? Dominic has 5 jobs listed on their profile. Ryan: I don’t know Tracy’s lineage, so I can’t speculate on whether he’s … if he’s from Africa or not. You mentioned in an interview with the Detroit Free Press that you are very confident in the case. 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. Ryan Patrick Hooper, CultureShift: Do you think that’s something people don’t deserve to know was said? You have to acknowledge it. 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. Schulz: Are you aware Tracy is African-American? Edsenga says the legal team says plans to present evidence to the court soon in an effort to get the case dismissed. Detroit's NPR Station. Schulz: And did you ever realize that Tracy’s skin [is] Black? 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. 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. 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. Founders Manager Dominic Ryan: 2011, 2012. We had mutual friends before working there, so …. “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. The settlement was announced after a leaked court deposition between Evans’ lawyer, Jack Schulz, and Founders manager Dominic Ryan, sparked … Founders Brewing Company in Detroit. An owner of Founders Brewing Company gave the brewery’s first official interview to … What about Michael Jordan? Schulz: So you don’t know if Barack Obama is Black? What about Kwame Kilpatrick? Thank you for reaching out to Founders before publishing your column. All Rights Reserved. At the company, we felt it best… we’ve relieved Dominic of all of his responsibilities as it pertains to the Detroit taproom. Michelle and Chris Gerard. We talk about “purposeful progress,” we fully admit that none of us are perfect. Schulz: No? I can’t speculate on what Dominic was thinking. Evans is African-American. Schulz: OK, So you knew Tracy prior to his employment at Founders? Harkema’s decision comes amid on-going litigation between Tracy Evans, and Founders Brewing around Evans’ … By choosing I Accept, you consent to our use of cookies and other tracking technologies. I can’t speculate on what Dominic was thinking. His feature reporting received a 2020 Regional Murrow award. Schulz: Alright. “We’ve never gone through anything like this in our 22-year history.”. Schulz: And what is the difference of that color? 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. 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 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 defense of Founders’ manager Dominic Ryan denying he knew the race of Tracy Evans. Founders manager Dominic Ryan: 2011, 2012. The restaurant’s general manager, Dominic Ryan, claims that he did not know Evans was black. Founders Manager Dominic Ryan: What do you mean by that? Thankfully, for our entertainment and education, the Detroit Metro Times published excerpts from Ryan’s deposition. 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 I would ask that you reserve judgment or comment on this case until you actually see the evidence presented by the parties. As all deponents are instructed, Mr. Ryan was directed not to guess, assume or speculate in his deposition. It’s not necessarily a zero tolerance policy, because the one employee is still there. The brewery faced backlash when in a leaked deposition Founders' general manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say whether Evans is … Evans’ Attorney, Jack Schulz: OK, are you aware Tracy is Black? We put him on a program to get some coaching, to get some additional training. Argumentative. 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. He was under oath when he made these statements. from the lawsuit, which raised a lot of eyebrows. 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. Attorneys for Founders maintain that Evans was fired not because of his race, but because of poor job performance. In the leaked deposition, Evans' Attorney, Jack Schulz, asked Founders' Manager Dominic Ryan, "Are you aware Tracy is African American?" Founders Brewing Co posted a statement to their website on Friday stating that their Detroit taproom would be closed 'until further notice.' One of the employees still is. In the leaked deposition from the Detroit Metro Times, Evans' Attorney, Jack Schulz, asked Founders' Manager Dominic Ryan, "Are you aware Tracy is African American?" First, as I doubt you’re aware, Mr. Evans himself has testified – unequivocally and under oath – that Mr. Ryan is not racist and was his friend; so whatever point Mr. Evans is trying to make by leaking deposition testimony to you is undone by his own words. Engbers also addressed some of the particular allegations in the suit including that employees had used the “N” word around Evans. Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host and producer of CultureShift. Evans was allegedly fired while prepping a second formal complaint to human resources. What Are Michigan’s COVID-19 Rules for Restaurants and Bars Right Now? It is not. 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. Offices (616) 776-2182. © Copyright 2020 by WDET and Wayne State University. Attorneys for Founders maintain that Evans was fired not because of his race, but because of poor job performance. Meanwhile, Dominic Ryan, the manager at the center of the leaked deposition, is still employed by Founders, Engbers said, though he was "removed from his duties" at … 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? In a deposition regarding Evans' claims, Founders' general manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say whether Evans is black. Ryan: What do you mean “how”? In the exchange Ryan, who fired Evans, claims he didn’t know Evans was black. Was he a poor employee that entire time? 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. 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. We saw it as a good opportunity for Tracy and he got the job. A basic breakdown of COVID-19 the updated regulations for Michigan restaurants, bars, workers, and patrons during the pandemic, The Essential Guide to Christmas 2020 Dining in Southeast Michigan, Where to order dinner, find festive cocktails, and celebrate with friends (virtually), More Southeast Michigan Restaurants, Bars, and Breweries Receive Liquor License Suspensions, Tenacity Brewing in Flint and Oak Cafe in Wyandotte are among the five most recent license suspensions for violating COVID-19 orders, Ring in the New Year With These Detroit Restaurant Meals, Where to order drinks and food for the last godforsaken night of 2020, Former Founders Brewing Co. From a deposition given last year by Dominic Ryan, the general manager of Founders Brewing Company, to Jack Schulz, a lawyer for Tracy Evans. At this point, the Founders manager Dominic Ryan, he’s still with the company? This motion will include documentary proof that neither Mr. Evans’ race nor retaliation played any part in Founders’ decision to end Mr. Evans’ employment. 235 Grandville Ave. SW Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Schulz: You don’t need any. Update, Nov. 1, 2019: Founder’s has settled the racial discrimination case with plaintiff Tracy Evans, with neither party admitting fault. We feel like we as a company, our job is to continue to move forward and to celebrate people of all different backgrounds. ... Dominic Ryan didn’t have to pretend he was colorblind in order to make us believe that he wasn’t a … “Enough was enough,” he says. 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. I mean, like, I don’t know his DNA. Schulz: So you don’t know him? We’ll keep the record as is. Taproom (curbside pickup only): Sunday-Saturday 11am-7pm A transcript of the exchange between Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan and Evans’ attorney, Jack Schulz, shows Schulz shifting from shocked to incredulous and perhaps a bit angry as Ryan claims he had no idea Evans is Black. 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. Yes, I know the difference in skin tone. That’s never been our stance as a company. Second, this testimony is not Founders’ defense in this case as you allege. 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. Facing Backlash for Deposition in Racial Discrimination Case [Freep]• Statement Regarding Metro Times Article [Founders]• Former Founders Brewing Co. 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. That’s when Ryan denied to confirm that his former employee is black. To learn more or opt-out, read our Cookie Policy. newsletter. Ryan’s remarks are understandably upsetting to many people, but the deposition and its aftermath are a small part of a much bigger-picture problem at Founders and the craft beer community at large. WDET is a community service of Wayne State University. One of the employees is no longer with us. Vague question. The controversy surrounding a racial discrimination lawsuit targeting Founders Brewery continues to grow. 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. Founders looks forward to its day in court, and, now that discovery has closed, it is more confident than ever that it will prevail. We hired PR firms and we had people tell us to say nothing. “We’re confident in the lawsuit. That is not in my agenda,” he says. 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. We wish that the apologies should have been communicated in a more timely manner. Schulz: I mean have you ever looked at Tracy Evans in your entire life? The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in October 2020. Schulz: Have you ever met a Black person born in America? Evans called Ryan's comments "completely offensive" and was surprised by the exchange—at one point, he and Ryan had been friends. The author chose not to include our full statement and, as a result, we are opting to share it with you. While it might be acceptable to speculate about this type of thing in casual conversation, Mr. Ryan was not having a casual conversation. “This isn’t just about Founders. Founders Attorney: Objection. Do you think it would’ve been easier to issue an apology and admit that there is possibly some wrongdoing, some of which Founders’ does acknowledge had happened in the workplace? Was he coached by Founders’ lawyer at all, to take that defense? Ryan: That’s not … I mean, is his skin different from mine? Mr. Evans’ poor job performance will be apparent when Founders files its upcoming motion. So by your … I guess your testimony is you have no idea if Tracy is a minority, if he’s African-American? MLive cites a Detroit Metro Times report that says Founders general manager Dominic Ryan, who fired Evans, told Evans’ lawyer in a case disposition … Dave Engbers, Founders’ owner: I can’t imagine what was going through his head. 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. Yes. 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. “You will never hear those words, as far as ‘boycott Founders,’ ever come out of my mouth.”. When this lawsuit hit us, we didn’t know the potential of what could happen. According to the filing, Evans also claims he was passed over for promotions, despite having greater seniority and a better record of conduct than the two Caucasian employees who were ultimately hired. 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. And we used this as a learning opportunity for that employee. Tracy Evans doesn’t work at Founders Brewing Co. 100 percent due to his performance. That’s never been our stance as a company. “We go through these things all the time. View Dominic Ryan’s profile on LinkedIn, the world's largest professional community. Schulz: Are you able to identify individuals by their skin tone? 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. But he says the company stands by its position on the lawsuit, claiming that Evans’ firing was due to poor performance, not racial discrimination. See the complete profile on LinkedIn and discover Dominic’s connections and jobs at similar companies. Ryan: I’ve never met Barack Obama so I don’t …. At the time we had a zero tolerance policy. Please see below for a full statement regarding the recent Detroit Metro Times article provided by our legal counsel. This Material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in any form. That is correct. 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. 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.”. No, Tracy worked on our packaging line and worked his way up to become a lead packager. Do you know if Michael Jordan is Black? Schulz: And you were able … Have you ever met a Black person who didn’t tell you they were Black? In it, Founders general manager Dominic Ryan said he didn't know the employee suing him is 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. Michigan’s largest beer maker Founders Brewing Company is facing renewed scrutiny arising from an ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit. Dave Engbers, Founders’ owner: I can’t imagine what was going through his head. He admits the company erred in its initial public silence and underestimated the blowback the suit would cause. Of course we know Tracy Evans is black. “It’s time to start saying something,” he says. The statement said Founders was confident it would come out on top in the lawsuit. On Monday, Metro Times published a transcript from a deposition conducted by Evans’ attorney with Founders’ Detroit general manager Dominic Ryan. Following publication of the transcripts on Monday, Founders’ attorney Patrick M. 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