A former blender at Bulleit sued the bourbon brand’s owner, Diageo, over racial discrimination and retaliation allegations.
Eboni Major was the first Black blender to work for Bulleit, Whiskey Raiders reports. However, earlier this month, she filed a lawsuit accusing Bulleit’s owner Diageo of unlawful discrimination, disparate treatment, and retaliation based on race in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.
Major’s suit accuses Diageo of subjecting her to “severe and pervasive discrimination” at work, where white women were allegedly treated better in the form of compensation and work responsibilities and being credited for Major’s work.
The lawsuit states that the discrimination “consistently resulted in a hostile work environment … which eventually led to Ms. Major’s constructive termination from her employment in retaliation,” the lawsuit states.
Major was a star at Bulleit. She made history as the first Black blender at a major distillery when she joined in 2015. In 2020, Major created Blenders’ Select Batch 001, which placed fourth on Whisky Advocate’s annual top 10 whiskies list.
However, at the same time, she was breaking ground in the whiskey industry and showcased a promising future, Major was already in discussions with HR over the alleged workplace discrimination. She complained about the mistreatment “including but not limited to differential treatment due to her race,” the lawsuit states.
In June 2021, Majors developed hypertension as a result of work-related stress. When she told Diageo, she was constructively terminated. The lawsuit claims the termination caused Major to suffer “extreme mental anguish, physical injury, outrage, severe anxiety about her future, painful embarrassment among her friends and co-workers, disruption of her personal life and loss of enjoyment of the ordinary pleasures of everyday life, as well as damage to her physical health.”
Diageo has since responded to Major’s claims and plans to dispute her claims in court, NY Times reports.
“Diageo celebrates and values diversity on all levels, and our long track record demonstrates a real commitment to creating a culture that supports inclusivity,” the statement said.
The statement continued: “When we learned of Ms. Major’s concerns and allegations, we took them very seriously, thoroughly reviewing each of them with great care utilizing internal, as well as external resources, and where appropriate we have reinforced training and guidelines.”