‘Militaristic sweat shop’: 6 things to know about the Grunt Style feud

San Antonio-based retail company Grunt Style is in the midst of a very public legal battle that has brought to light accusations of harassment, reckless business decisions and more.

The military-themed apparel brand was founded in 2009 when Daniel Alarik, an Army drill sergeant at the time, started designing and selling T-shirts out of the trunk of his SUV while stationed in Georgia. Grunt Style is known for its patriotic flare, featuring American flags, guns and the like.

The company grew, first calling Chicago home before relocating to San Antonio in 2018.

Here is a brief rundown of the recent leadership drama and past controversy. 

  • Alarik’s termination: Alarik was ousted as the CEO in February 2020 and, on Oct. 2, sued the company he founded, saying they violated his contract. Alarik claims Grunt Style fired him without proper compensation or medical coverage as his wife battles cancer. Alarik is seeking between $250,000 and $1 million. “I was terminated from the company that my wife and I founded and led for 10 plus years” he said in a GoFundMe post he created to help with his family’s heath care expenses. “We were devastated and shocked.”
  • Grunt Style’s response: Officials with the company paint a different picture. They released screenshots of emails with Alarik offering to cover his medical expenses until negotiations could be reached. 
  • “Frat house” drama: Alarik’s termination isn’t the company’s first debacle. Several former employees have accused Grunt Style of being a chaotic and volatile workplace, even referring to it as a “frat house” work environment that included drinking, disrespect and reckless business decisions, the Express-News reported. 
  • Excessive workplace drinking: Employees said leadership, including Alarik, encouraged drinking at work and the company had “Beer:30” every Friday in which all employees got together for beer. Matt Metzger, a former Grunt Style brand director said Alarik frequently smelled of alcohol during the work day. “There’s so much — it would be an amazing reality TV show,” Metzger told the Express News. 
  • Gender discrimination: Another ex-employee, Nikki Tey, accused Grunt Style of disrespecting women, saying she became a target for her male coworkers’ bullying. “It was a lot of sarcasm, a lot of disrespect — a lot of, you know, just inappropriate comments they would say to each other,” she told the Express-News.
  • Whip-snapping: First described as a magical place to work, within a few years employees said the Grunt Style leadership would take advantage their workforce,  employees and “it just became whip snapping.” Metzger said it was like a “militaristic sweat shop” ruled by fear. Others reported working 20 or 22-hour days and sleeping on the warehouse floor.

READ MORE: A Grunt Style Reckoning: A look inside San Antonio apparel maker’s rowdy past, near-death experience and current leadership battle

Taylor Pettaway is a breaking news and general assignment reporter for | [email protected] | @TaylorPettaway

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