Founders manager says he needs ‘clarification’ regarding what a black or white person is

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tracy Evans is suing Founders Brewing Company for what he says is a wrongful termination after he attempted to contact human resources regarding racist comments made at his workplace in Detroit.

Evans originally worked at the Founders location in Grand Rapids in 2013. He started a new job in Detroit with Founders towards the beginning of 2018.

In his lawsuit against the company, Evans claims he had multiple incidents of racially insensitive language, such as the use of the N-word, being used at his workplace. He says he reported the issues to HR.

The lawsuit claims he switched to the Detroit location for a "fresh start," but he experienced the same amount of racially charged language being used there.

Evans says he then went to his manager Dominic Ryan about the issues, and explained he intended to plead his case to corporate offices in Grand Rapids.

The lawsuit alleges the day Evans intended to go to Grand Rapids, his boss questioned him for taking that day off and said he would prefer he stay in Detroit and work on a project for the company.

Evans claims he complied with Ryan's request in fear of retaliation. He was fired the next time he went in to work.

Founders says Evans was fired for poor job performance, stating missed deadlines for various projects as their reasoning.

Part of the deposition released by Evans' attorney to FOX 17 when Ryan was questioned has gotten the nation's attention.

The partial transcript is as follows:

Evan's attorney Jack Shulz is questioning and Ryan is responding.

Founder's responded to the Metro Time's article showing the transcript with the following statement from attorney Patrick Edsenga:

"Mr. Perkins,

Thank you for reaching out to Founders before publishing your column.  Founders will soon be providing its full response to Mr. Evans’ claims when it files a motion to dismiss the case in its entirety.  This motion will include documentary proof that neither Mr. Evans’ race nor retaliation played any part in Founders’ decision to end Mr. Evans’ employment.  I would ask that you reserve judgment or comment on this case until you actually see the evidence presented by the parties.

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.  It is not.  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.  Second, this testimony is not Founders’ defense in this case as you allege.  Founders evaluated and decided to terminate Mr. Evans based only on his job performance.  Mr. Evans’ poor job performance will be apparent when Founders files its upcoming motion.  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.  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.  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 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.  Founders looks forward to its day in court, and, now that discovery has closed, it is more confident than ever that it will prevail."



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  • mike

    Founders has some real racists working in corporate..but this is West Michigan; very white and very religious so if you don’t fit one of these molds then expect horrible behavior.

  • J.B.

    “very white and very religious so if you don’t fit one of these molds then expect horrible behavior.”
    So..If you happen to be white and religious, then you must be a racist?
    “Very white” like what? Do you have a sliding color scale that gauges racism by skin tone?
    “Very religious” like if they went to church 4 times a year they are a “little” racist?
    But if they go every Sunday..They get an obligatory KKK membership just because?
    “expect horrible behavior.” yeah…the skin color..the church..”those” people, right?
    You sir…Are a racist and a bigot by the very definition of the words.

      • Tony

        Corporate America will allays have to defend against money thirsty victims, and employees will always have to defend them selves from money hungry Corporate America. Shultz was just doing his job trying to paint Evans as a victim because of the color of his skin and Ryan just was not having any part of it, an interesting exchange. I am a Founders fan for sure, an hope it works out for both parties. I see a founders Beer Summit in the near future.

  • Dale

    This was an absurd line of questioning by the counsel for plaintiff. Apparently, in his small mind, to acknowledge awareness of color, or race, is an admission of racism? Release of this partial transcript is an attempt to embarrass Founders into a costly sentiment, and for what?
    How about we await the plaintiff’s job performance record before rushing to judgment, or is that being unrealistic?

  • FounderSucks

    Founders sucks anyways.

    Overpriced, watered down, hipster beer served by incompetent wait staff on a sticky floor surrounded by other entitled people.

    • DR

      Watered Down Beer?? Entitled people?? You’re an idiot. If you don’t like Founders, get your $1 PBR at a dive bar with your UN-entitled friends and be happy with it.

  • Bill Smiewec

    So you post this article stating that someone needs clarification on something that they are clearly being coached by counsel as to not get baited into incorrectly answering questions in a specific way that attorney’s regularly use to justify their own agendas and you in turn post this article with this title you are using and you wonder why nobody can trust anything they see or read anymore that is supposed to be journalism that is clearly twisting anything anyway you can to sell it…

  • Nope, not laughing-

    We are heading to a world of no gender – we’re all named “Pat”. Wait that’s offensive to all “Pats” out there. Only if they’re black or disadvantaged color “Pats”.. white “Pats” step aside and apologize…
    So if someone calls a white “Pat” a cracker is that a hate crime or a gender offense? How would we know?

  • Tom T

    This is how he was asked (and counselled) to answer a question that never should have been asked; yes it’s asinine, but this whole article is out of context race bait garbage. The average reader does not understand WHY the manager answered like this because the average reader here is not a lawyer. Let the case play out, let the evidence be presented, but do NOT fall for misleading articles like this.

  • Augster

    Could they have had a radio playing black music in the background? That’s the only place I hear that word anymore. I had a custom hat embroidered at Lids by a real nice black kid last week and counted 29 times I heard that word while he was making it. Isn’t that bizarre?

  • Jim Bissell

    it is true that court defined racism is based on skin color, not race. it is also true (check your 23 and me) that there are no pure races, never have been.. everyone is mixed race, so racism is moot, never was a thing, by definition… its skincolorism, not racism…

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