Pressure mounts on BrewDog CEO over claims of inappropriate behaviour

By Finn Scott-Delany, MCA

- Last updated on GMT

Business boss: BrewDog co-founder James Watt
Business boss: BrewDog co-founder James Watt

Related tags Brewdog Beer Bbc

BrewDog CEO James Watt is facing mounting pressure after being accused of inappropriate behaviour towards women and abuse of power in the workplace.

More than 15 former members of staff have spoken out against Watt with some claiming he made female bartenders feel “uncomfortable”.

Some were advised by colleagues on how to avoid unwelcome attention from the BrewDog co-founder, according to an investigation by BBC Scotland’s Disclosure programme.

Katelynn Ising, who worked at a BrewDog bar in Ohio, US, said female staff would dress down when they knew Mr Watt would be in their bars.

She said: “We would make a point to warn new girls… like, ‘Hey, just so you know, James Watt’s coming to town. Just kind of, like, leave after your shift, don’t really hang around [and] don’t always do your hair and make-up that day, like don’t catch his attention’.”

Lawyer response

Dylan Gray, a former manager in Ohio, said he would schedule more men on nights when Watt would be there, and sit with female staff behind the bar “so they wouldn’t feel uncomfortable”.

Other former staff claim Watt was witnessed by staff kissing an intoxicated customer on a roof terrace at another US bar.

Watt has said the allegations are false and denies behaving inappropriately.

A lawyer for Watt said that “the only party that Mr Watt could have been present with” on the roof terrace “has confirmed…absolutely no sexual encounter took place.

“She has also confirmed that far from being intoxicated, she drove herself home.”

Action plan

Watt’s lawyer added: “At no time has Mr Watt given unwelcome attention to any female bartender.”

BrewDog chairman Allan Leighton said Watt had told him the BBC claims were inaccurate and based on misinformation.

He said: “James has committed to making improvements to his management style.”

Last year nearly 300 former and current BrewDog staff signed a letter​ accusing Mr Watt of presiding over a toxic culture of fear.

Leighton said that since then BrewDog had “implemented a wide-ranging action plan to address the issues raised”.

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