Hollis Bulleit, the former heiress to the Bulleit Bourbon empire, is making shocking accusations against her family and their company.
In a series of recent Facebook posts, Hollis claims she was fired from the company in December after bringing her lesbian partner Cher to Thanksgiving dinner the month before. She also insists that her “livelihood and future was taken away,” and that she’s since been “black-balled and ostracized” from the spirits industry because of her family’s alleged homophobia.
But now, Diageo, the parent company of Bulleit Frontier Whiskey, has come forward to deny Hollis’ accounts, calling them “unfair and inaccurate,” reports Pink News.
Furthermore, a spokesperson for Diageo tells Fox News that Hollis' contract with Diageo had simply expired, and that the two parties were unable to come to an agreement on a new one.
"Any implication that she was fired, or that failure to agree to terms on this contract was due to her LGBT identity, is simply false," the company stated.
Hollis, 43, first took to Facebook on July 29 with claims that she was “erased publicly” from her family’s brand in late 2016. In the post, she alleges that she was sent an email on Dec. 23, 2016, informing her of her sudden termination after “tireless[ly]” working to promote the brand for more than a decade.
In subsequent posts, she also points to her “family’s homophobia” as the reason for her dismissal, citing their reluctance to invite Cher to family gatherings, and their recent decision to dis-invite Hollis and Cher from a Christmas gathering.
“Shortly after coming out the closet a decade ago, not one family photo has been taken of me (or with me and Cher) with the core Bulleit family,” she wrote.
Hollis also called out Diageo for failing to protect its employees from discrimination.
“And because family was business and intertwined with a global corporation, I find it odd that I did not benefit from the departments and safeguards that are put into place to either intervene or provide mediation or educational diversity training as would be the expected protocol for employees in this type of situation,” Hollis wrote.
“I do not understand how the company I worked for is on many of the top 10/ 50/ 100 ‘best places’ for LGBTQIA employees to work,” she added, referring to Diageo being named the “best place to work for LGBT equality” by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for nine consecutive years.
Diageo, however, tells Fox News that they continue to support the LGBT community. In their statement, they also refute Hollis’ claims of being fired.
“In advance of Hollis’ contract expiring in 2016, we offered her a multi-year extension. Despite it being an increase versus her previous arrangement, we were unfortunately not able to reach agreement with her on this new contract," wrote Diageo.
"We are very proud of our long track record of work, through many of our brands, to support the LGBT community. We are also appreciative of Hollis’s past efforts on behalf of the brand and the industry."