Boulevard Brewing’s founder John McDonald has returned to the brewery he built after hostile workplace allegations led to the departure of the brewery’s president and two other high ranking executives.
Here’s the latest on an unfortunate story that continues to unfold…
On January 25, former employee at Boulevard Brewing took to reddit to post that she had left the brewery because of harassment she received when she was pregnant.
But unfortunately that claim was just the beginning of what she describes as “a sexist work environment,” accusations that Boulevard Brewing was quick to counter while acknowledging that the organization could have been more sensitive…
But Boulevard’s response was widely criticized as tone-deaf and not really addressing the depth of the issues at the Kansas City, MO-based brewery and the situation only escalated.
On January 26th Boulevard posted what can only be seen as a formal apology from the brewery and announced that it had fired a key executive and is taking extensive actions to address the growing allegations to make for a more inclusive workplace.
By January 27, with even more employee complaints coming to light, Boulevard’s president, Jeff Krum exited, saying he failed to ensure that “workplaces were free of any form of real or perceived harassment or demonstrations of unwanted attention,” Good Beer Hunting reported.
Krum also resigned as president of Boulevard’s parent company, Duvel USA which in addition to Boulevard owns Firestone Walker Brewing in California and Brewery Ommegang in Upstate New York.
Natalie Gershon, Boulevard’s Vice President of Marketing also publicly resigned Wednesday, taking to social media to state that she did not agree with company decisions in a now deleted tweet.
Then on January 28 a group of Boulevard Brewing employees took to reddit to endorse those departures and announce that they are “taking the brewery back” in a post we’ve republished below…
A message from the Employees of Boulevard
Today, we returned power to the people.
After years of begrudgingly trudging through a toxic culture and harmful work environment created and cultivated by certain members of our executive team, we finally have had enough. WE are the ones who make this brewery run, and we have become tired of being overruled, bullied, ignored, and utterly misrepresented by inept and insensitive “leaders”. Their lack of accountability and awful missteps this week were the last straw – so today, we raised our voices and our voices were heard.
Through our efforts, (former) President Jeff Krum has stepped down from the company and no longer will our brewery be clouded and characterized by his indifference, ego, pride and lack of humanity. We can find, and desperately deserve, a leader who actually represents our values and acts on them.
Our additional desire for the departure of Vice President of Marketing Natalie Gershon was also fulfilled. Natalie’s condescension, stifling of employee voices, and constant protection and parroting of Jeff’s harmful commentary had significantly contributed to the brewery’s hostile environment. No more.
The reputation of Boulevard has been severely tarnished, and our inner workings are now in a state of repair, but with these two root sources and guardians of toxicity and problematic behavior gone, it will be a much easier process building ourselves back up.
Going forward, we – as a collective – will insist on and accept nothing less than maintaining a brewery culture where employees are heard, misconduct is not tolerated or brushed aside, and we return to operating in the best interest of ALL Boulevardians, not just those at the top of the food chain.
The people have spoken. And we promise to stay loud when it comes to doing what’s right. We’re taking our brewery back.
And on January 28, the Kansas City Star reported that John McDonald, who founded the brewery in 1989 and left after he sold the brewery to Belgium-based Duvel Moortgat in 2013, had returned to the brewery for the interim, “to improve the work environment and its public image.”