Students react to Founders Brewing’s racism scandal


Juliana Knot

Calvin students boycott Founders after lawsuit.

Founders Brewing, a Grand Rapids-based craft beer company, is being sued by a former black employee over racial harassment. According to the Detroit Metro Times, Tracy Evans alleged a hostile work environment where coworkers used racial slurs around him and Founders human resources did nothing after his complaints.

Calvin students, who have heard of the lawsuit, have largely been avoiding Founders’ products since learning about it. Many students indicated that they hadn’t heard of the lawsuit. Lawrence Beamer, a junior, who heard about the lawsuit from the Chicago Tribune, has been avoiding their products. “I have not drank Founders and will boycott them until their situation is resolved,” Beamer said.

Calvin senior Skyler Rich heard about the lawsuit from different social media sites a couple of months ago. He says that he has completely stopped buying Founders products after learning of the lawsuit. “There is plenty of good beer in Beer City USA, we can stop shopping at racist businesses when they make it clear they are not making an attempt to change or remedy racist situations,” he said.

Since, the company has shut down its Detroit taproom and pulled out from a craft beer festival. The company has stated that Evans was fired because of poor job performance and not racial harassment.

The lawsuit has been going on for over two years but got national attention after the Detroit Metro Times reported a deposition where his manager said that he didn’t know whether Evans, former President Barack Obama, or NBA legend Michael Jordan were Black. According to FOX17 West Michigan, Evans worked at the Grand Rapids location in 2013 and started in Detroit in 2018. 

Since then, Inclusion Director Graci Harkema has resigned in protest. In an open letter she posted to her Facebook, she claimed that her feedback was ignored, despite being the same as that of the public relations firms. “In every conversation and with every action, [Founders has] been most concerned with winning the lawsuit,” she said.