Arizona CEO seen on video hurling racist slur at Uber driver is 'relieved of his duties'

When the CEO was asked by the driver to sit in the back seat rather than in front, he lashed out at him with a racial slur.

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By Ben Kesslen

The chief executive of an Arizona company was "relieved of his duties" 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, was getting into an Uber driver's car last Friday when the driver asked him to sit in the back seat rather than in front, according to NBC affiliate KPNX of 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 he would cancel and refund the trip.

But Berglund got in the car and angrily pressed Clarke about 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.

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Agroplasma announced Wednesday that Berglund had been relieved of his duties pending an investigation.

"The incident is not at all reflective of Agroplasma's values and ethics," the company said.

Uber told KPNX that it would ban Berglund from using its app, saying, "Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere."

Berglund said in a telephone interview with KPNX that 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 allowing people in the front seat only for parties of three or more since he was sexually assaulted by a passenger in the front seat last year.