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Former head brewmaster files lawsuit, alleges age discrimination

Craft brewing has certainly seen a resurgence in Minnesota and across the nation, with some companies seeing significant growth and success in their chosen niche. However, just like any other company, workers at these companies could still experience workplace discrimination that in some cases could lead to their dismissal.

For example, Third Street Brewhouse's former head brewmaster has filed a lawsuit against the parent company of the brewery, Cold Spring Brewing Company, alleging age discrimination and race discrimination. The plaintiff, age 63, alleges he was let go from his job on the recommendation of a consultant who, according to the plaintiff, made comments showing a bias against workers above a certain age and minorities. The plaintiff claims that after he and another worker were let go, their positions were filled by two Caucasian men who were in their 30s.

The plaintiff began working for the company in September 2011, having working as a brewmaster for over 20 years. During his time with Third Street Brewhouse, he developed the company's centerpiece beer. However, the plaintiff, who is 63 and of Jamaican decent, and one other man, an assistant brewmaster from Barbados, were let go from their jobs in September 2015.

The plaintiff was told the company was trying to cut costs, as it did not produce as many barrels as expected. The plaintiff acknowledges that the amount of barrels he produced did fall slightly, however, he believes the overall number of barrels that were produced did not go down. Instead, the plaintiff claims this decision was made per the advice of a consultant who was prejudiced against older workers, workers of color and workers of other nationalities. The plaintiff alleges that prior to the consultant's involvement, he received positive performance reviews.

It remains to be seen how this lawsuit will unfold, but one point to take away is that if Minnesota employees believe they have been discriminated against in the workplace due to their age, race or nationality, it may be possible under the right circumstances to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible individuals or entities. Individuals in such situations may want to explore their legal options to determine if they have any avenues of recourse.

Source: SCTimes, "Former head brewmaster sues Third Street Brewhouse," David Unze, June 13, 2016

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