‘It crushed me’: O’Connor Brewing’s owner shares his plan to do better as allegations of toxic workplace swirl, investigation begins Thursday

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The owner of a popular Norfolk brewery confirms an independent investigation will begin Thursday into allegations of sexual harassment, sexism, and racism.

This comes after former employees anonymously posted allegations of a toxic work environment at O’Connor Brewing Co. on social media.

10 On Your Side met with Kevin O’Connor, the brewery owner, to learn more about the allegations and what he’s doing to regain the trust of the community and his employees.

The series of complaints surfaced on social media last Wednesday morning. It accused managers of sexual harassment, sexism and racism.

Allegations made by anonymous former employees ranged from the use of racial slurs, to an instance of a manager allegedly groping an employee.

The claims caused O’Connor to close the brewery’s doors from Friday to Wednesday.

The owner says some of the claims he recognized and others he’d never heard about.

“For past actions to come back up that I thought we resolved — it’s painful to see it again,” said O’Connor. He’s hoping a look into their policies will help better address any future workplace grievances.

They’ve started employee training at the business that includes talks about sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, sexism, and racism, per O’Connor.

A statement was also released with plans to address the allegations. O’Connor said an independent third-party investigation will investigate the complaints posted on social media. He says the investigator has experience with workplace complaints. That investigation is set to start on Thursday.

The company said it will be “completely transparent with the findings.”

A ‘Speak Up’ program is now in place. Employees will also be surveyed on workplace culture and will be able to make complaints through a confidential hotline.

“We’re not bad people. We’re a good family. We are a good company and we have great, great team members. We look forward to being part of the community and giving back just like we did for 11 years,” O’Connor said.

Stay with WAVY.com for more local news updates.

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