Founders Company Statement
While companies are usually discouraged from commenting on pending litigation — and we have been advised to keep silent — a recent legal case filed against Founders has been so grossly misconstrued that we feel compelled to speak out. Since our beginning nearly 22 years ago, Founders has been and will always be committed to promoting an inclusive and welcoming space for our customers and employees. Claims that we failed to address instances of racial bias in the workplace are completely false.
We abhor discrimination of any kind. Since our company’s inception, we have tirelessly worked to create an environment where every employee feels valued, respected and safe. We call ourselves the “Founders Family” for a reason. Nearly five years ago, we officially articulated our ethos and culture—which has developed organically since the brewery’s beginning — with the Founders Family Principles: Inclusion, Authenticity, Passion, Family, Diversity, Positivity, Humility, Dedication, Community, and Purposeful Progress. These principles guide our decision-making, problem-solving, and all actions for every member of the Founders Family. These principles are part of our on-boarding and training process and the Founders employee handbook.
The former employee who brought this lawsuit was loved by the Founders Family and a good friend to many, which is why these claims have rocked us to our core. We initially chose not to speak out, but in light of recent allegations in the media, we realized that we owe it to our employees, partners, customers, and the general public to share some details of the case. Our silence has created some confusion and we want to set the record straight.
There are essentially four claims made by the former employee, all of which are false: 1. that no repercussions occurred when racially offensive language was used around the employee; 2. that the employee was passed over for promotion due to his race; 3. that the company electronically named its office printers racially offensive names; and, 4. that the employee was terminated in retaliation for his complaints.
Here are the facts, which can be found in greater detail in our official response to the lawsuit:
- Language: The employee reported on two occasions to Human Resources (HR) that co-workers had used the n-word in conversation. We have no tolerance for such language and acted immediately to address those situations. This offense was documented in both employees’ files, and it was made clear that the use of any racially insensitive language would result in immediate termination. At the time, the former employee who brought the complaints to HR was satisfied with HR’s actions in addressing each situation. In the first incident, the former employee explicitly told HR he did not want the offending co-worker to be fired, and in the second incident, the former employee told HR he was satisfied with the disciplinary action that was taken.
- Promotions: Founders consistently valued and elevated the former employee during his time at Founders. Among other things, the employee was given two promotions during his less than five-year tenure at Founders, including one where he was selected for the promotion out of a pool of 294 applicants.
- Termination: In his new role after the second promotion, the employee made several critical errors and then stated that he did not know what he was supposed to be doing in his job. To address these significant issues, we put the employee on a 90-day performance improvement plan and gave him additional training and support to help him succeed. Despite these efforts, he continued to miss multiple milestones and markers. He was therefore terminated for poor performance.
- Printers: The employee’s claim that Founders gave printers racially offensive names is simply untrue, and no employee has ever raised a concern to HR about such a thing.
We are confident that we acted consistently with our values in every respect concerning this former employee. We believe we truly have something special and unique in terms of the care, passion and commitment our Founders Family brings to work every single day. We don’t — and will never — take that for granted.
Actions speak louder than words. While we are all responsible for protecting our principles and celebrating the expression of them, we knew that we needed a dedicated champion to partner with our teams to ensure this is happening every day. A few months ago, we created a new role at Founders – a Director of Diversity and Inclusion. After an extensive search, a highly-esteemed professional joined our Family. In her previous positions, she has developed and delivered Diversity & Inclusion content to leaders, field reps and support staff, and is a champion for inclusion in our local community. This leader will also help strengthen our strategies for attracting and engaging a diverse and inclusive workforce and workplace and help us promote and inspire best practices in our industry.
That last point is especially important. The conversations around diversity and inclusion that are happening on a larger scale are emotional but absolutely necessary. We believe that as industry leaders we have a responsibility to help drive that essential change. We are committed to doing just that.
Mike & Dave, Co-Founders
Brewed for Us.