The CEO of an Arizona fertilizer firm has been “relieved of his duties” after he was caught on camera calling a black Uber driver the n-word after the driver asked him not to sit in the front seat.
Hans Berglund, the CEO of Agroplasma, a fertilizer company based in Tempe, Arizona, ordered an Uber ride on Jan. 31, and was matched with driver Randy Clarke, an Arizona State University student.
In video of the exchange, Berglund can be seen opening the front passenger door and attempting to sit in the front seat when Clarke politely tells him he prefers passengers sit in the backseat.
“I don’t like when people sit in the front, I’m sorry,” Clarke says.
Berglund acknowledges this, saying he would order another ride. Video shows Clarke agreeing and promising to cancel the trip and refund Berglund’s money.
However, Berglund then moves to the backseat of the car where he presses Clarke on why he wasn’t allowed to sit in the front seat. “Are you f**cking serious with me?” Berglund asks.
Clarke, who told ABC 15 that he’d been sexually assaulted by a front-seat passenger once, began calmly asking Berglund to leave his car. Berglund refuses, and is heard asking the driver, “Is that because I’m white?”
“No sir,” Clarke replies.
That’s when Berglund can be heard calling Clark the N-word.
“I shamelessly felt like laughing because I did not know this was real,” Clarke told ABC 15. “It’s not just any word.”
Clarke posted the video, which quickly went viral and Berglund was relieved of his duties as CEO of the fertilizer company.
“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 in a statement posted to its website. “The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma’s values and ethics.”
In a phone interview with KPNX, Berglund said he’d been drinking and regretted the way he spoke to the Uber driver.
“I’m taken away as CEO from the company. I don’t have anything to do with the company anymore. I’m fired,” said Berglund, outside his Scottsdale home. “I founded the company, but I’m gone. I’m history.”
“I apologize to the guy. I shouldn’t have said what I said,” Berglund said.
According to a report from the New York Post, Berglund’s Uber account has been placed on hold during an investigation.
“Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere,” the ride-sharing company said.