More Fallout: Founders' Diversity Director Quits with Harsh Words About Ignored Advice

October 26, 2019, 7:41 AM by  Allan Lengel

The fallout continues for Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co. as result of a racial discrimination lawsuit filed last year by a former employee. 

The latest: The company's diversity and inclusion director, 34-year-old Graci Harkema, announced Friday night on social media that she gave two weeks' notice.

The 2009 graduate of Grand Valley State University joined the Grand Rapids company last January. In a bluntly worded, 22-sentence resignation letter posted on her Facebook page, she offers to work through Nov. 8.

"You've been most concerned with winning the [wrongful dismissal] lawsuit," Harkema writes to top executives. "You are [more] concerned with the ego of 'winning' than you are with the loss of customers, loss of reputation and the loss of employees' well-being." (Letter image is below.)

Things all began when Tracy Evans, a former employee of Founders, filed a racial discrimination suit last year, claiming he was passed up for promotions and wrongfully fired, and that he worked in a racially hostile environment where the N-word was used. The company claims Evans was fired for good cause, including chronic lateness.

Tracy Evans

Things started spinning out of control for the company earlier this week when a desposition in the case was leaked to the Metro Times. During questioning by Evan's attorney, a Founder's manager refused to concede that Evans is black.

Some bars responded to that news by refusing to continue selling Founders' beer.  

On Friday morning word surfaced that Founders Brewing had indefinitely closed its Detroit taproom over fallout from the suit.

Then Friday night came Harkema's tweet to 826 followers, first reported by The Detroit News. 

After bars started boycotting the beer, Evans told Deadline Detroit he appreciates the businesses' support. "It is overwhelming knowing so many different individuals support you and really take notice of some of these things that have been happening,” he said.

“I don’t know how [Founders comes] back from this,” he added, referring to fallout from his case.

Graci Harkema's resignation letter

(Photo: Facebook)

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