Eboni Major was the “poster girl” for Bulleit Distillery and the first Black blender in the company’s history. She made waves with her award-winning bourbon, but her success was marred by racial discrimination.
The reported discrimination was severe to the degree that she developed health issues and had to leave the company, a lawsuit alleges. Major also has suffered embarrassment, anxiety and mental anguish because of her previous work environment, her attorney alleges.
According to the lawsuit Major filed against Bulleit’s parent company, Diageo, Major dealt with constant microaggressions during the five years and seven months that she worked for Bulleit.
She was the only Black person at the distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky, where she claims she was paid less than her white counterparts, but was expected to do more. She also claims she wasn’t given the same recognition as white employees and they were often credited for her work. Most of her complaints reportedly were ignored except for when she faced retaliation.
All of that led her to work in a hostile environment, according to the complaint filed in the Supreme Court of New York on April 4.
Stephanie Childs, the executive vice president of corporate relations for Diageo North America, disputed Major’s claims.
“Diageo celebrates and values diversity on all levels, and our long track record demonstrates a real commitment to creating a culture that supports inclusivity,” Childs said in a statement to The New York Times.
In spite of the harassment, Major rose through the ranks of the company. She started as a blending intern in 2015. In 2019, she pitched her own bourbon, Blenders Select. It won the Gold Medal at San Francisco World Spirits Competition. In addition, Major won Diageo’s Global Craftsperson of the Year award. In December 2020, Whiskey Advocate named Blender’s Select its fourth-top whiskey.
Read full story at Atlanta Black Star here.