Founders out of Detroit beer festival amid lawsuit controversy


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Days after the publication of a deposition transcript in which a Founders Brewing Co. manager was evasive when asked about a former employee’s race, the brewery dropped out of an upcoming Detroit beer festival.

“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,” the Michigan Brewers Guild, which runs the festival, said in a Wednesday statement released to News 8.

Grand Rapids-based Founders is being sued by Tracy Evans, who worked at Founders in Grand Rapids and then at the company’s Canal Street Brewing in Detroit for four years. 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, a general manager for the brewery in Detroit, wouldn’t give straight answers 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 stating that the testimony is not a representation of its defense.

Additionally, the statement continued, “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. … As all deponents are instructed, Mr. Ryan was directed not to guess, assume or speculate in his deposition. This is the reason for his answer.”

The statement said Founders was confident it would come out on top in the lawsuit.

>>Online: Full statement from Founders

The annual Michigan Brewers Guild Detroit Fall Beer Festival features more than 800 brews from more than 125 companies.

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