Fallout from Founders lawsuit has businesses pulling their products, others giving profit to charity

Posted at 9:45 PM, Oct 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 22:24:38-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Founders Brewing remains at the center of controversy, facing an ongoing lawsuit from a former employee who says he was racially discriminated against.

Now the fallout has several stores pulling Founders products from their shelves, including businesses in West Michigan.

It's happening in stores across the state, the company says they're willing to fix any issue businesses may have, but that's not enough to quell some concerns on how the brewery is handling things.

The Apartment Lounge, Grand Rapid’s famous gay bar says they stopped selling Founders products last week.

The latest in a long line of rather-silent protests being taken by businesses in wake of the lawsuit, filed by former worker Tracy Evans.

The Meanwhile Bar and The Pyramid Scheme both in Grand Rapids, stopped carrying Founders products in October of 2018.

"We had heard a variety of concerns about Founders previously, but when the lawsuit was filed in 2018, we felt we needed to pull their beers in solidarity with Tracy Evans’' Co-Owner Tami VandenBerg explained.

A bar in Kalamazoo is taking a different approach.

"It’s not about boycotting Founders, it’s more about doing the right thing." Shakespeare's Pub Co-Owner Ted Vadella said.

"We are donating profits from our barrel aged stored kegs of founders that we’ve had for years for promos and events, it just feels like it’s the right thing to do," Vadella explained.

Vadella says profits will be going to ERACCE, a non-profit organization based in southwest Michigan that aims to "eliminate structural racism in communities."

Sign inside Shakespeare's Pub

"We’ve been partners with Founders for 16 years, my partner and I we just don’t feel like it was handled the way we would have handled it and we feel like we should handle it appropriately, we have a pretty diverse crowd, really great people that come out here all the time and we owe it to them," Vadella added.

"It’s not about us, it’s not about Founders, it should be about diversity and equality and that’s what I want it to be about," Vadella said.

FOX 17 reached out to Founders Brewing for comment on this fallout directly, they directed us to a statement made on Friday, saying in part that they share the values with the restaurants and bars that serve their products and that they'll fix any issues.

Click here for the full statement.

Meanwhile, Founders also says it believes they will prevail in that racial discrimination lawsuit, adding that Evans was fired solely for poor performance.