CEO seen on video hurling racist slur against Uber driver 'relieved of his duties'
The CEO of an Arizona company was "relieved of his duties" at his job on Wednesday after video surfaced showing him hurling a racial slur at a black Uber driver.
Hans Berglund, CEO of Agroplasma, a fertilizer company based in Tempe, Arizona, was getting into an Uber on Jan. 31 when the driver asked him to sit in the car's back seat rather than in front, according to NBC affiliate KPNX in Phoenix, which obtained the driver's video of the incident.
When Berglund said he liked to sit in front, the driver, Randy Clarke, said, "I don't like when people sit in the front, I'm sorry."
Berglund then said he would order another ride.
“Sounds good,” said Clarke, an Arizona State University student, adding that would cancel and refund the trip.
But Berglund got in the car and angrily pressed Clarke on why he couldn't sit in front. "Are you f---ing serious with me?" he said.
When Clarke calmly asked Berglund to leave his car, the CEO refused, asking, “Is that because I’m white?”
"No, sir," Clarke said, at which point Berglund called Clarke the N-word.
RELATED: Take a look at CEOs and executives who were pushed out of their companies in 2019:
Agroplasma announced Wednesday that Berglund had been relieved of his duties pending an investigation.
“In light of the events of this past Friday, Agroplasma CEO Hans Berglund has been relieved of his duties while the company performs a full internal investigation,” the firm said, adding, "The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma’s values and ethics.”
Uber told KPNX that it would ban Berglund from using its app, saying, “Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere.”
Berglund in a telephone interview with KPNX said he had been drinking and regrets his comments. “I apologize to the guy. I shouldn’t have said what I said.”
Clarke told the station in an interview that he has had a policy of only allowing people in the front seat for parties of three or more since he was sexually assaulted by a passenger in the front seat last year.