In an ongoing lawsuit between Founders Brewing and former employee Tracy Evans, who sued the company for racial discrimination last year, details from a recent deposition reveal a bizarre twist: the general manager of Founders Brewing Detroit claims he is unaware of whether Evans is Black, the Detroit Metro Times reports.
Evans, a former manager at Founders’ Detroit and Grand Rapids locations, alleges he was fired after preparing a formal complaint about multiple examples of racist behavior he experienced while working for the company. In a startling turn, Dominic Ryan, general manager and former friend of Evans, defended himself by claiming he was unaware of Evans’ race. The defense was revealed in the Detroit Metro Times today.
In the leaked transcript of an exchange between Ryan and Evans’ attorney, Jack Schulz, Ryan says he does not know if Evans is Black or African-American. He also states that he is not sure whether Barack Obama, Kwame Kilpatrick, or Michael Jordan are Black or African-American, because he “never met them.”
“There’s this blind ignorance, and to me that’s the larger story,” Evans told Detroit Metro Times. “A lot of these white-owned companies — and it’s not just Detroit, it’s all over the country — come in and have this sort of blindness to overt racism, and it has to be called out.” He continued, “How can one expect to know what minorities go through if they can’t even acknowledge that [some employees are] minorities?”
In response to the leaked transcript, Founders released a statement on its website. In it, the brewery claims the testimony is Ryan’s, and not Founders’, then goes on to defend the general manager’s testimony. “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,” the statement reads. “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.”