Owner of Seattle’s Blue Moon Burgers admits he took part in racist text exchange

Blue Moon Burgers owner Charlie Olson, after an initial response that did not take responsibility for his participation in a racist text exchange, now calls it “a single — but nonetheless deplorable — failure” on his part. The incident, he says, triggered an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It’s been all over social media: A screenshot of someone at Seattle’s Blue Moon Burgers using the n-word in a text was shared on Facebook last week. In the text exchange, the epithet is used to describe a photo of Blue Moon employees in the kitchen. The man who shared the photo, John S. Thomas, a former employee, says in his Facebook post that he and his colleagues have been fighting a “battle of discrimination” for “about two years now against this same company.” (Thomas has not returned messages asking for comment.)

Charlie Olson, the owner of the Blue Moon chain, has now admitted he took part in the racist exchange, replying, “That’s what prison looks like” to the n-word comment. (According to Olson, the other party in the texts was an employee who is no longer with the company.)

Olson did not acknowledge his part in the exchange at first, saying last week in a comment on Facebook that the incident took place “almost 3 years ago” when employees “figured out they could login” to company iPads used to take online orders. “At this point, I won’t go into the details,” Olson wrote. One Facebook comment responded, “Are you saying those were not your messages? You are framing this as if it happened ‘under your roof’ but it is your name in the message.”

Contacted last week for clarification on the nature of the text exchange, Blue Moon Burgers director of operations Angela Trice stated that “an employee misused the tablet” and “the employee was let go.” Trice now says she did not include Olson’s role in her accounting of the events because “That was what I was told” by “employees who were around at that time.” (She has only been with the company since October.)

In Olson’s latest Facebook post, he admits his participation in the exchange, calling it “a single — but nonetheless deplorable — failure” on his part. He states that he has since “reached out to those involved to offer my sincerest apologies.” The incident, he says, triggered an 18-month investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “At the…

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