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Craft Beer Industry Has Its #MeToo Movement, Ousts CT Employee

Don LaVange
Creative Commons

The craft beer industry is having its #MeToo movement. Women working in Connecticut’s craft beer companies say the industry has a sexual harassment problem, and they’re working on new ways to address it. 

Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, Brewbound reporter Jessica Infante spoke about a recent Instagram post where women in the craft brewery world shared instances of harassment in the workplace.

Those stories included “workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, some really harrowing tales of sexual assault,” Infante said. “Companies were named, sometimes specific people were named and in the weeks since that’s happened, we’ve seen quite a fallout in the industry with a lot of high-level terminations and resignations and a lot of breweries coming forward to make statements about they won’t tolerate it in their workplaces either.”

Infante said about 1,000 stories from across the country were shared. They ranged from microaggressions about women not liking beer to female co-owners being ousted and sexual assault.

A South Windsor brewery employee was terminated earlier last month as a result of these posts. Jeff Nelson was a sales director at Connecticut Valley Brewing Company.

Nelson came up multiple times in the Instagram posts, according to Infante. “Women had reported receiving inappropriate pictures from him,” she said of Nelson, who was a fixture in the industry. “That was a recurring theme in a lot of the accounts.”

Nelson made a public apology on social media.

Mariah Billian, co-chair of the Pink Boots Society Connecticut Chapter, an organization for women in the brewing industry, is working on creating resources for people in the business.

“Putting sexual harassment training on this situation is just a Band-Aid,” said Billian, the taproom and events manager at Outer Light Brewing Company in Groton. “It doesn’t really take care of the problem.”

Some solutions she’s developing include a committee that individuals can go to with harassment complaints. She hopes the committee can intervene and create accountability within the industry.