Founders Brewing in Detroit faces criticism over alleged racial discrimination against former manager

Taproom abruptly closed on Monday

DETROIT – A Detroit taproom for Founders Brewing Company is facing criticism over alleged racial discrimination against a former manager.

Naeemah Dillard started as a server at the Founders Brewing Company’s Detroit Taproom and rose to the position of part-time manager.

“I was very excited. I thought I would be a good fit for the position. And I thought that after working with the servers, I could be a voice or advocate for them a little bit more,” said Dillard.

But it turns out she would need her voice to advocate for herself. She claims she was retaliated against for speaking up about racial discrimination and other issues. She said she was passed over for full-time management opportunities because she is Black.

Dillard said she put in her notice late last month.

Read: Founders closes Detroit taproom just as new racial discrimination lawsuit filed

“I spoke up and reported everything to HR. They were either ignored, or I was retaliated against, and my hours were cut,” she said.

Now Dillard is the second employee to file a lawsuit against the company for racial discrimination.

“I want Founders to admit what they have done, take accountability, and never do it again,” said Dillard.

A settlement was reached in the previous suit in 2019. Attorney Jack Schulz was involved in that case. Now he’s representing Dillard.

“What I discovered talking to Naeemah is that nothing has changed. It doesn’t seem like a few bad apples, it seems like a rotten tree,” said Schulz.

As the complaint was filed Monday, Founders announced publicly that it’s closing its Detroit location, saying it struggled to regain its footing after the pandemic-related closures.

“It is devastating to know that so many people lost their job without any kind of notice,” Dillard said.

The company said in a statement in response to the lawsuit, “We are sorry that this individual did not have a good experience with us, and to the extent it was due to our actions or inactions that contributed to that, we are deeply sorry.”

Previous coverage: Founders taproom in Detroit abruptly closes after over 6 years in the city

About the Author:

Will Jones rejoined the Local 4 News team in February 2023 as a weekend anchor and reporter. He previously worked as a general assignment reporter for the station from 2012 to 2015.