Joe Van Gogh Owner Robbie Roberts Apologizes for Handling of Duke Officials’ Demand to Fire Baristas | News
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Joe Van Gogh Owner Robbie Roberts Apologizes for Handling of Duke Officials’ Demand to Fire Baristas

Posted by on Wed, May 9, 2018 at 12:06 PM

In a statement posted on the company’s website this morning, Joe Van Gogh owner Robbie Roberts apologized for how his company handled a demand from Duke administrators to fire two baristas over a song that university vice president of student affairs Larry Moneta found offensive.

His statement:
Joe Van Gogh apologizes to our employees, customers and community for how we handled a situation involving our Duke University store. As you have read, it is true that Joe Van Gogh is a contractor to Duke. We attempted to understand Duke’s position in this case, but we should have taken a different approach in making personnel decisions. As the owner of the business, I take full responsibility for Joe Van Gogh’s actions. I apologize to all of the people directly involved and those who have been touched or offended, of which there are many. We are taking steps to remedy this matter, but all company personnel issues are private and will remain private. Again, my truly sincere apologies.
As the INDY reported yesterday, Moneta entered the Joe Van Gogh on Duke’s West Campus Friday and took exception to the song that was playing, Young Dolph’s “Get Paid,” which contains profanity and sexually explicit lyrics. He complained, then called the head of Duke Dining, Robert Coffey, who in turn called Joe Van Gogh, which fired the two baristas working that shift on Monday morning.

That story has since garnered national attention, including write-ups on the websites of Slate and The Washington Post.

Update (2:15 p.m.): Duke just emailed Roberts’s statement to the media, adding: 

We appreciate Mr. Roberts’ statement and his commitment to remedy the matter with the individuals involved, and regret the pain this incident caused to those who look to Duke to uphold the highest values of fairness and equity to all members of our community.
This is a developing story. The INDY will update it as we learn more. 

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