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Tucker Brewing Company being investigated by Department of Labor

Business Food Tucker

Tucker Brewing Company being investigated by Department of Labor

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

Tucker, GA — The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is investigating Tucker Brewing Company, eight months after employees accused the company of violating state and federal labor laws.

At least four former employees of Tucker Brewing Company have been contacted by the DOL in recent weeks.

The DOL Wage and Hour Division is handling the case, confirmed Eric Lucero in the Office of Public Affairs. The Wage and Hour Division aims to achieve compliance with labor standards and works to ensure workers are paid properly.

“The department is investigating,” Lucero said. “No further details are available at this time.”

Tucker Brewing Company representatives did not return numerous messages from Tucker Observer seeking comment for this story. The public relations firm that handled media for the brewery said their contract with the company ended last year.

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.

Nothing much has changed since last summer, said an employee.

On Jan. 19, 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.

A patron, who arrived at about 7 p.m. that evening, said the vibe was off. When she approached the bar, she was told, “We probably can’t serve you any food. Our whole staff just walked out.”

“There was a couple at the bar, plus several other tables inside the main area. The bartender seemed distracted, and then we realized everyone was leaving and he was saying goodbye,” said Nicole Baran, the patron. “We got a couple beers and went to sit outside. No one approached our table with service for a while, then someone came out and my partner asked what was going on.”

The couple was told the staff walked out.

Baran recalls the employee saying, “Twelve managers in four years,” and shaking his head.

Tucker Brewing Company has a high turnover rate. At least seven employees have quit Tucker Brewing Company in 2022.

The brewery is owned by Ashley Hubbard and her brother, Ryan Chapman. 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.”

One of the longest serving employees at Tucker Brewing Company said he stayed so long because the staff felt like a family.

“People stick around because of the camaraderie of the staff. It was a tight-knit family. We respect each other. We like each other. That’s why we stayed around,” the employee said.

The employee remained at work the night of the walkout to support the bartender, a longtime friend, although he decided to end his employment a few days later. Circumstances remain the same as last summer, when the allegations about mistreatment of employees first came to light, he said.

“I told myself I wouldn’t walk. That I would see it through to the end,” he said. “But after that night I thought, you know what, I’m done.”

A former general manager said Tucker Brewing Company should be a success.

“It’s sad, is what it really is because that place is beautiful. The building, the facility itself, is absolutely gorgeous and it should just be printing money. And it’s really sad, in my opinion that it’s being run into the ground like that. It’s disappointing,” he said.

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