Tracy Evans, a Black man living in Wayne County, Michigan, alleges that employees at Founders Brewing Company called him the N-word and was denied a promotion because he was Black. Evans was employed there for four years.
According to a lawsuit filed in late 2018 in the Eastern District of Michigan, Evans was fired when he went to human resources over the alleged harassment. He described the atmosphere with his former employers as a “racist work environment.”
In a statement released by Founders Brewing, the company denies race played a role in Evans’ termination, but didn’t address any of the other allegations of racism he alleged. Founders’ general manager Dominic Ryan claimed he didn’t know Evans’ race.
"I don't know Tracy's lineage, so I can't speculate on whether he's — if he's from Africa or not," Ryan, who is white, said when an interviewer asked him about Evans.
When the interviewer questioned Ryan whether basketball legend Michael Jordan and former President Barack Obama are Black, he replied that he had never met them.
An amended complaint filed by Evans in October 2018 states he was hired at the Grand Rapids location in 2014 as a packaging machine operator. He was later transferred to a Detroit location where he was fired in June 2018.
Evans’ lawsuit alleges that at both locations he was either called the N-word by a co-worker or the racial slur was used in his presence. When he subsequently reported the instances to HR “his complaints fell upon deaf ears” and the accused employees were able to continue working for the brewing company.
At the Grand Rapids worksite, Evans alleges his co-workers labeled an upstairs printer the “white guy printer” and one downstairs the “Black guy printer.”
In 2015, Evans claims he applied for a promotion only to see two white co-workers receive the two open positions even though Evans had trained both of them and worked at the company for a longer period of time.
Evans lawsuit claims he "received unequal treatment, was denied a promotion, and was ultimately terminated based on his race and in retaliation for complaints regarding his treatment." He also alleges he was "subjected to disparate scrutiny and disciplinary practices when compared to his Caucasian comparators."
Since the suit was filed, Founders revealed they were planning to file a motion to dismiss the case. "Founders evaluated and decided to terminate Mr. Evans based only on his job performance," the company said, adding that it plans to release paperwork to prove his termination was not based on his race or encounters with human resources.