Founders Brewing Company filed a lawsuit with a former employee who claimed he was called the N-word by employees, denied a promotion because of his race and eventually fired when he told a manager he was going to human resources.  The Grand Rapids, Michigan, company announced in a statement Thursday that the suit that Tracy Evans entered into was dismissed after the two parties agreed on terms not disclosed. Evans claimed in his 2018 lawsuit that he was exposed to a "racist work environment" during the four years he was employed by Founders.
Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, who co-founded the brewery, said that during the process, the company "listened, engaged in self-discovery and reached common ground for making changes."
"We agreed that no one is considered wrong here," the men said. "The most important thing is that this serves as an opportunity to bring our full attention to the work we now need to do, as a company with more than 600 dedicated team members, to rebuild our relationships."
The founders said in their statement on Thursday that it abhors discriminatory measures of any kind and is committed to moving issues of diversity and inclusion forward into the brewery.
Evans, who was hired at the Grand Rapids location in 201
When someone offers to change, we as humans have a few choices, and I've made the choice to see what the Founders are doing with the path they're about to take, "Evans said.
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He also said he was unsure of what Stevens and Engbers had planned for the future, but he knows that "see color" and appreciate people for who they are, and their collection of experiences is the mission. "
In a deposition on Evans & # 39; claims, Founder General Manager Dominic Ryan said he could not definitively say if Evans is black.
" I does not know Tracy's lineage, so I cannot speculate on whether he is – whether he is from Africa or not, "said Dominic Ryan, who is white when an interviewer asked him about Evans' race.
When the interviewer continued to question Ryan and asked the boss if he knew if Michael Jordan and former President Barack Obama are Black, he replied that he had never met them.
Evans claims that at both Grand Rapids and Detroit, he was either called N- The word by a co-worker or a colleague used the racial slur around him. When he reported on both cases of human resources "his complaints fell on deaf ears" and the employees continued to work for the entrepreneurs, the lawsuit states.  At the Grand Rapids location, Evans noticed & # 39; koll owns a printer in the upstairs "white guy printer" and the one below "black guy printer. "
When Evans applied for promotion in 2015, the two open positions were given to his white employees, although Evans had trained them both and had been employed with the Founder for a shorter period.
In June 2018, Evans met a supervisor and informed him of his plans to meet human resources about the work environment and how he was treated. Days later, Evans says he was fired for "advance reasons."
Founders Brewing Company & # 39; s diversity and inclusion director , Graci Harkema, resigned a week before the settlement was reached.Harkema said on Facebook Friday that she disagreed with how the company handled the lawsuit.
In a letter she posted online, addressed to the company's management, Harkema said that she was repeatedly dismissed when she offered her suggestions on how to regain trust with the LHBTQ and minority communities.
"In every conversation and with every action, you have been most concerned about winning the lawsuit," Harkema wrote: "You are more concerned with the ego of" winning "than you are. You're about loss of customers, loss of reputation, and loss of employee well-being. "
She also included in her post a phrase that Nike included in an ad with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
" Believe in something, "shone the slogan." Even if it means sacrificing everything. "
Minyvonne Burke contributed.