The CEO of Brewdog says he is planning legal action against the BBC after it aired a documentary where former staff claimed he made women ‘feel powerless’.
At least 15 ex-workers of Brewdog USA told the BBC that James Watt’s behaviour made female bartenders feel “uncomfortable”.
The documentary The Truth about Brewdog features interviews with former staff, who allege inappropriate behaviour and abuse of power in the workplace by Mr Watt.
The BBC Scotland Disclosure team said it began to investigate the company after almost 300 former and current Brewdog employees signed a letter in 2021, accusing Mr Watt of running the company with a ‘toxic culture of fear’.
Former staff member, Katelynn Ising worked in DogTap which is Brewdog’s flagship bar and brewery in Canal Winchester, Ohio. She said if female staff knew Mr Watt was visiting, they would dress down.
Mr Watt’s lawyer denied the allegations to the BBC and said his client did not behave inappropriately.
Included among the claims made in the documentary, are that female bartenders were advised how to avoid unwelcome attention from Mr Watt and that managers would try to schedule certain female staff to be off to avoid Mr Watt’s attention.
Mr Watt formed Brewdog in 2007, when he was 24, with friend Martin Dickie, in Ellon in the north east of Scotland.
The company is worth around £2 billion, has more than 100 bars and employs more than 2,000 people globally.
Brewdog USA started in 2016 in Columbus, Ohio, but the company now has eight bars in three states.
Some of the accusations against Mr Watt included him taking young women who were intoxicated on night time tours of the brewery.
The BBC reports that this has also been denied by Mr Watt’s lawyer.
He said: “Mr Watt regularly takes both women and men, friends and customers, on evening tours of the brewery.
“It is not true to say that those who accompany him are intoxicated.
“The claim that he did, was made by an employee in June 2021.
“It was fully investigated – the claims were not substantiated – no further action was warranted by Brewdog USA HR.”