A Michigan bar owner has issued an apology after Darb’s Tavern & Eatery staff graciously gifted a biracial coworker with a watermelon with “Happy ½ MLK” and “Happy black day” scrawled on it in sharpie.
In a statement issued on Monday, Rob Hearit confirmed that his staff had given a “wonderful minority employee” a watermelon as a gift, adding that it was “intended to be a friendly joke.”
Though he largely appeared to stand by the ill-conceived prank, Hearit did admit that it “was in poor taste and offensive, to say the least.”
To his credit, however, Hearit did admit his participation in the gift giving.
“I saw the ‘gift’ and I didn’t stop it. In fact, in a lapse of judgement, I also joined our employees in signing it,” he said in the statement.
“While I thought it was an innocent joke between employees who are friends, as the owner I should have recognized the inadvertent message, stepped in and stopped this behavior.”
The employee’s mother, Kelly Martin Aimery, posted about the “gift” on Facebook, claiming that her daughter’s coworkers and boss “thought this was OK.”
“Come on people. This is awful on so many levels. She is biracial, hence the Happy ½ MLK Day. This is on top of many comments her boss feels free to say to her including ‘halfsy’,” the young woman’s mother wrote.
She asked that followers share the post to help spread the word.
The post has been shared more than 600 times on Facebook.
Hearit said in his statement that employees will now undergo diversity and sensitivity training, which he’ll join in on.
The employee’s identity has not been made public.