One CEO probably thought he was going to get away with calling an Uber driver the N-word, but luckily the driver had a camera on deck to catch the racism in action.
According to the New York Daily News, Hans Berglund is the founder and CEO of AgroPlasma, an Arizona fertilizer company based in Tempe, Arizona. On Jan. 31, he needed a ride home and Uber driver Randy Clarke, a 25-year-old Arizona State student, came to pick him up.
The two reportedly got into an argument over whether Berglund could sit in the front seat, however, Clarke was trying to avoid front passengers because he was sexually assaulted in 2018. His vehicle had multiple signs asking passengers to sit in the back.
Despite the requests, the argument eventually escalated even with Berglund moving to the back seat, at which point Clarke requested that Berglund leave the car. The incident was captured on video. Berglund proceeded to ask, “Is it because I’m white?”
Clarke then shook his head, replying, “No sir, it’s not because you’re white.” This is when Berglund responded “You’re a fu**ing ni**er.”
Clarke took the racial slur in stride, revealing to Berglund that he had been caught on camera. “Oh this is good,” Clarke responded. Berglund then proceeded to leave the car. Clarke said he had installed two cameras in his car following the 2018 assault.
After the incident, AgroPlasma released a statement on Wednesday saying Berglund was “relieved of his duties while the company performs a full internal investigation.”
“The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma’s values and ethics,” the statement continued, according to AZ Central. “Our relationships with our employees, customers and the community are the cornerstones of our success, and we are doing everything in our power to rebuild their trust and repair the harm that has resulted from this incident.”
An Uber spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that Berglund was barred from all Uber rideshare services
“Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere. What’s been described is a clear violation of our Community Guidelines, and we launched an investigation as soon as we learned of it,” the spokesperson said.
Berglund’s attorney, Scott Zwillinger of Phoenix also released a statement on Berglund’s behalf: “All I can really tell you is he’s embarrassed, he’s apologized, and it was way out of character for him.” Zwillinger added that Berglund emailed Clarke offering to meet in person and apologize.
Eventually Berglund spoke for himself on ABC15 Arizona saying, “My life has been ruined.” He also confirmed that he’s been fired and “I don’t have anything to do with the company anymore.” You can check out his statement and the original Uber video below.