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Arizona CEO out after video captures him using racial slur in Uber

Posted at 8:50 AM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 08:53:00-05

TEMPE, AZ — A Phoenix-area CEO accused of using a racial slur towards a rideshare driver last week is no longer with the company, according to an attorney.

Hans Berglund, the founder and CEO of AgroPlasma — an organic fertilizer company based in Tempe — was captured on video using racial slurs while in an Uber driven by a college student.

The incident in question occurred Jan. 31 when Uber driver Randy Clarke asked Berglund to sit in the back of his vehicle during their ride. Clarke said he has a policy that riders use the backseat after he was assaulted during a ride in 2018.

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.

"Are you f***ing serious with me?" Berglund said, according to the video. "Is it because I'm White? And you're a f****ing N******? You are a f***ing idiot."

AgroPlasma confirmed Wedesday morning that Berglund is no longer with the company. He has reportedly been replaced with an interim CEO.

"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," AgropPlasma said in a statement.

Prior to leaving the company, Berglund issued a public apology.

"I deeply regret and apologize for the hurtful and derogatory language I used during the altercation with Mr. Clarke," he said. "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."

"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," Uber said in a statement.

Clarke said that Uber reached out to him late Monday to tell him that Berglund's account has been temporarily placed on hold during the investigation.

Read the statement from AgroPlasma Inc.'s Matt Brill in its entirety below.

"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 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."

"Jeffrey Ziehmer, who has been serving as Agroplasma's General Manager, will assume the role of Interim CEO until further notice."

"We have no further comment at this time."

This story was originally published by KNXV in Phoenix.