Michigan craft brewery sued for racial discrimination sees diversity director resign

A Michigan craft brewer sued by a former racial discrimination employee has lost his diversity director.

Founders Brewing Company & # 39; s diversity and inclusion director, Graci Harkema, who is black, said in a Facebook post on Friday that she left the position after just nine months on the job.

"I appreciate friends and family for being supportive and standing by my side. I have dedicated myself to a life and career of justice, ethics, integrity and morality. I have retired from Founders Brewing Co., "she wrote, including a phrase Nike had on an ad with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

"Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything," the slogan read.

Harkema's Facebook post included a letter saying she wrote to the founders' heads where she disagreed with how the company handled the lawsuit by a former packing machine operator, Tracy Evans. [19659002] Evans, who is black, sued in August 2018, claiming that an employee on two separate occasions either called him the N-word or used the racial slur around him. The suit claims that when Evans reported these incidents to human resources, "his complaints fell on deaf ears."

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He also claimed he was denied a campaign for his run and was eventually fired in June 2018 when he told a manager about his plans to report his concerns to human resources.

The founders of statements have denied that race played any role in Evans' termination, but have not addressed other allegations

The brewery faced setbacks when he was in a leaked deposit. Founder's CEO Dominic Ryan said he couldn't definitively define whether Evans is black.

"I don't know Tracy's lineage, so I can't speculate on whether he is – whether he's from Africa or not," Ryan, who is white, said in the deposition when asked about Evans' race.

As the interviewer continued to question Ryan and asked if he knew if Michael Jor dan and former President Barack Obama are blacks, he replied that he had never met them.

In a statement on Friday, the founders announced that the Detroit taproom would be temporarily closed as the company addresses "challenges."

In her latest, Harkema said that her ideas on how to address the lawsuit were brushed aside, and the founders instead focused on trying to win the suit.

"You are more concerned with the ego of" winning "than you are about loss of customers, loss of reputation and loss of employee well-being," she wrote in a letter dated October 25. "We as a company need not be at the place we're at now. "

Harkema, who was hired in January after the lawsuit was filed, said the founders had a chance to be" the hero "in how the situation was addressed, but instead she said the company has lost confidence in the community and many of their employees.

prioritizing diversity and inclusion begins at the top. We do not experience a personnel issue, we experience a management problem, "she wrote.

The founders' co-founders, Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers, told NBC News in a statement that they are sad Harkema is leaving. [19659002]" Graci Harkema had been a valuable a member of our founding family during their time with the founders. We are sorry to have her leave on Friday. We really appreciate all her efforts to help us move the company forward. We will continue our diversity and inclusion program and plan to have management in place in the important area as soon as possible. "

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