Founders furloughs 163 workers in Michigan due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Company hopes layoff will be shorter than six months

Founders. (WDIV)

DETROIT – Founders Brewing Company announced Wednesday that it will furlough 163 workers in Michigan due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Founders officials said the layoffs are intended to last less than six months, but due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the layoff is considered “indefinite.”

The layoffs will affect retail workers at the Detroit Taproom on Charlotte Street and the Grand Rapids Taproom and Company Store on Grandville Avenue Southwest, the company announced. The taprooms have been closed since March 13.

The company will continue contributing to benefits and employees will not have to reapply for jobs, according to a spokesperson.

Founders is still brewing and selling beer.

Here is a statement from Founders CEO Mike Stevens:

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our business and industry hard. Founders has been very fortunate to have continued paying our retail teams since we closed our tap rooms on March 13th. However, this week we announced the difficult decision to furlough those team members starting May 3rd until we have better clarity on where we as a business, and society, go from here. We did not take this decision lightly and hope to bring back our furloughed staff as soon as possible."

Founders said the expected date for the mass layoff is May 3. A list of the affected job titles and positions at both locations was sent to workers.

“There are no bumping rights available to the employees involved,” the message says. “Affected employees are not represented by a union. Greater advance notice of this mass layoff was not given because of the unforeseeable business circumstances provision in the WARN Act. This provision applies because the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan, the continuing restrictions on bar, restaurant and other retail operations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing restrictions on Founders’ retail business was not reasonably foreseeable at the time notice was required under the WARN Act.”

Company officials said they had hoped to avoid layoffs, but the pandemic ultimately made this unavoidable.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.