Founders closing Detroit taproom until further notice amid controversy

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Founders Brewing Co. is closing its Detroit taproom until further notice.

In an email to event ticketholders, the brewing company said the CBS bottle pickup and tapping party will not be happening Friday as scheduled.

The move comes after criticism related to a deposition that was leaked in a racial discrimination lawsuit earlier this week.

“In light of the recent events and, more importantly, out of concern of our employees’ safety, we have decided to close the Detroit taproom from Friday, October 25 until further notice,” Founder said in its email to ticketholders.

Tracy Evans filed the racial discrimination lawsuit last October. He was the events and promotions manager for Founders’ locations in Grand Rapids and Detroit. He said he was the only minority manager at Founders, and said co-workers used racial slurs around him and other employees.

It grew to national attention this week when the Detroit Metro Times published a leaked deposition where the brewery’s general manager for the Detroit taproom claimed he didn’t know the man who is suing the brewery is black.

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?”

Ryan allegedly responded, according to the leaked deposition, “I’m not sure of his lineage so I can’t answer that.”

Later on in the deposition, Schulz asked, “I guess your testimony is you have no idea if Tracy is a minority, if he’s African-American?”

“I don’t know Tracy’s lineage, so I can’t speculate on whether he’s…if he’s from African or not,” Ryan is alleged to have responded. You can read the entire deposition here.

Founders responded through its attorney, saying in part, “neither Mr. Evans’ race nor retaliation played any part in Founders’ decision to end Mr. Evans’ employment.”

The Michigan brewer says it will be issuing refunds to all CBS bottle ticket holders as soon as possible.

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