updated 5/18/2005 12:00:52 AM ET 2005-05-18T04:00:52

Ross Hopkins still likes to drink Bud, even though he says a brief tryst with a Coors beer cost him his job at a Budweiser distributor.

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Hopkins, 41, is suing American Eagle Distributing Co., saying the company wrongly fired him for drinking Coors in a bar two years ago.

“They flat-out told me ’We’re putting food on your table so you could put it on theirs?”’ he said Tuesday. “I thought I could drink it, no problem.”

Hopkins’ lawsuit, filed in a Greeley court, seeks unspecified damages for lost wages and benefits. No trial date has been set.

Jeff Bedingfield, an attorney for the distributor, declined to comment, saying: “American Eagle prefers not to try this case in the media.”

Colorado law says workers cannot be fired for a legal activity while off duty and away from work. There are exceptions, such as when a worker’s actions relate to an occupational requirement or create a conflict of interest.

In a court filing, American Eagle said Hopkins’ termination “was necessary to avoid a conflict of interest with his responsibilities to American Eagle and/or the appearance of such a conflict of interest.”

Hopkins, who was a warehouse supervisor for the distributor, said he was not wearing a uniform or representing American Eagle when he was at the bar in May 2003 with some co-workers. He said he had ordered a Budweiser but a waitress brought Coors. He decided to drink it because he didn’t want to wait.

The son-in-law of the distributor’s majority shareholder also was at the bar, and offered twice to buy him a Budweiser, but Hopkins turned it down both times.

He was fired the following Monday.

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