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:
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."