A 73-year-old founder and CEO of an Arizona fertilizer company has lost control of his company after calling a black Uber driver the N-word.
Hans Berglund who founded AgroPlasma, an organic fertilizer company based in Tempe was caught on camera using the N-word on Randy Clarke, a student of Arizona State University who happened to be an Uber driver.
The incident occurred last Friday night when Clarke asked Berglund to sit in the back of his vehicle during their ride.
According to Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV, Clarke has a policy that riders use the backseat after he was assaulted during a ride in 2018.
The video from the vehicle shows Clarke asking Berglund to sit in the back seat and offering to refund him if he didn’t want to sit there.
“Mind sitting in the back,” asked 25-year-old Clarke.
“No, I don’t like to sit there,” replied Berglund.
“I don’t like it when people sit in the front,” said Clarke.
Clarke has a nearly impeccable driver rating on the Uber app with over 14,000 rides under his belt.
“Are you f***ing serious with me?” Berglund asked.
“No, I don’t like when people sit in the front. I’ll cancel and refund you,” replied Clarke.
After both agreeing to cancel the trip, Berglund went back into the vehicle.
“I’m here, sitting in the back,” Berglund said.
“Sir, please leave my vehicle.”
“Is it because I’m White? And you’re a f****ing N******? You are a f***ing idiot.”
“I was in shock. And I shamelessly felt like laughing because I did not know this was real,” Clarke told KNXV. “It’s not just any word.”
Berglund had been removed as CEO of the company he founded, according to an AgroPlasma spokesperson in a statement to KNXV.
“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,” Matt Brill said.
He added: “The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma’s values and ethics. 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.”
Berglund was remorseful, telling ABC15, “I deeply regret and apologize for the hurtful and derogatory language I used during the altercation with Mr. Clarke. I firmly believe that there is no excuse for the use of racial slurs under any circumstance, so I will not offer any. It is my sincere hope that Mr. Clarke hears and accepts my apology and believes me when I say it is honest and heartfelt.”
Uber launched an investigation into the incident saying: “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.”