Department of Labor finds Tucker Brewing illegally retaliated against two employees

Staff members draw draft beers for customers during Tucktoberfest 2020 at Tucker Brewing Company on September 19. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Tucker, GA — A U.S. Department of Labor Investigation into Tucker Brewing found that the brewery illegally retaliated against two employees and also recovered $8,149 in back wages.

“The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found the employer retaliated illegally against two employees after each of them emailed the Tucker Brewing Co.’s owner and asked about their earnings and the employer’s tip-sharing requirements,” the announcement from the Department of Labor says. “The employer responded by terminating both workers’ employment despite neither having a history of disciplinary action. The written inquiry to company ownership about pay practices is a protected activity under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

A message left with the owners, Ashley Hubbard and her brother, Ryan Chapman, was not immediately returned.

“The U.S. Department of Labor enforces federal laws that protect workers’ rights. In this case, two workers were well within their rights to ask about how they were being paid, especially when they believed the employer’s pay practices were unfair or incorrect,” Atlanta Wage and Hour Division District Director Steven Salazar said. “Employers should review their pay and other employment practices to avoid legal and financial headaches. Listening to employees concerns about workplace compliance can be good for the business and all the company’s workers.”

Tucker Brewing employs 40 people.

Decaturish and Tucker Observer reporter Logan C. Ritchie first reported on the brewery’s alleged mistreatment of its employees in June 2021. It’s a story that’s been largely ignored by other media outlets. Following the initial story, Tucker Observer learned four former employees of Tucker Brewing Company had been contacted by the DOL in connection to the investigation.

Tucker Observer granted the brewery’s employees anonymity because they fear retaliation for speaking to the press.

When 10 employees came forward in June 2021 to discuss the allegations, they recounted stories of gaslighting, intimidation and inaccurate pay, alleging Tucker Brewing Company paid employees as independent contractors. The brewery was reported to the IRS for employee misclassification in 2020, according to the former employee who filed the report.

On Jan. 19 of this year, tension mounted over a new payroll process. Tucker Brewing Company waitstaff walked off the job after demanding issuance of overdue pay, according to employees and witnesses.

The Chapman family also owns GPI Group, Inc. next door to Tucker Brewing Company. GPI is a multi-faceted design and manufacturing firm with several divisions including GPI Millworks, Simply Elegant and Althea Medical Group.

According to the February issue of InTucker Magazine published by the city of tucker, Tucker Brewing Company has “made a multi-million dollar investment in Tucker.”

But while the company is investing millions in Tucker, employees say they are struggling to get by.

“[Employees] live paycheck to paycheck. The owner doesn’t get that,” said a former manager who left days after the walkout. “… If we didn’t walk out, nothing would ever change.”

To read our story about the DOL investigation and the walkout, click here.

Logan C. Ritchie contributed to this story. 

The Tucker Observer is a community news website owned by Decaturish.comWe provide locally sourced news about Tucker, Clarkston and Stone Mountain.

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