That the beer industry, and especially the microbreweries, is an overwhelming white, male, and libertarian stew of toxicity is pretty well-known. These businesses are well-known for their hatred of unions, for their belief in working people to the bone, for sexist beer names, and for being pretty unwelcoming to non-white brewers. But this case of racism from Founders, which really is one of the finest brewers to develop out of this movement, is totally over the top.
Tracy Evans is Black. That’s a simple, indisputable fact.
He confirms he is.
As we previously reported, the former Founders employee’s race is at the center of a conentious racial discrimination lawsuit that he filed in federal court last year against the Grand Rapids-based brewer.
Evans, a former manager who worked at Founders’ Detroit and Grand Rapids locations, alleged “a racist internal corporate culture.” Some white coworkers exhibited multiple examples of “blatant” racism. Among other issues, they repeatedly used the “N word” around him, and management allegedly named a printer it used the “white guy printer” while labeling the printer for lower-tier employees the “black guy printer.”
Management, Evans says, did little about the racism he encountered, and he claims he was fired while preparing to make a second formal complaint to human resources about such issues.
The suit is moving through the trial process and is in in depositions. That’s where Founders revealed a startling and arguably ludicrous defense: The manager who fired Evans is claiming he didn’t know that Evans is Black.
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. Instead of just answering the question and moving on, Ryan digs in deeper and deeper, repeatedly asking for clarification when Schulz asks questions like “Are you aware Tracy is Black?”
At one point, Ryan even claims that he doesn’t know if former President Barack Obama, Kwame Kilpatrick, or Michael Jordan are African-American, because he has “never met them.”
I mean, come on!
— P O B (@swainsonsblush) October 22, 2019
Yeah, pretty much.
Founders needs new lawyers.
In a statement provided to Metro Times, a Founders attorney seemed to double down on Ryan’s strategy, and denied that his claim that he doesn’t see skin color is a “defense.”
“Mr. Ryan was simply saying that he does not assume anything about individuals’ race or ethnicity unless they tell him that information,” the statement reads. “While it might be acceptable to speculate about this type of thing in casual conversation, Mr. Ryan was not having a casual conversation. He was under oath when he made these statements.”
Of course, at this point, Founders had been served with a federal racial discrimination lawsuit that explicitly spells out that Evans is Black.
This is a picture of Evans.
America is truly post-racial.