These days, it’s still rare to see a craft brewery in any sort of legal hot water (unless it’s a contentious trademark dispute). However, a recent employment discrimination action filed by a former Minnesota brewer has serious allegations.
This particular lawsuit calls into question the rationale for the brewer’s termination. Specifically, the former brewer alleges that the brewery improperly discharged him due to (1) his race and (2) his age, contrary to federal and state law.
There are more specifics in the complaint, available here.
This matter is worth noting, whatever the ultimate outcome. Indeed, it reminds us all that breweries are subject to the same standards as any other employer, and would be well served to regularly visit and re-visit hiring and termination practices. For most small breweries, having a dedicated HR team is out of the question—and the budget. However, a consult with an experienced employment lawyer can be well worth the initial investment, to help shore up internal policies, put in place a system for record-keeping, and generally set up a framework for helping the brewery navigate difficult decisions and circumstances down the road.