***WARNING: The embedded video featured in this story is uncensored. It contains cursing and other language some may find offensive.***
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) – The general manager of Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Newport News said a clerk was fired because of an incident that occurred on May 4 in which he called a man a racial epithet.
Lisa Little provided a statement to 13News Now on Monday, adding that every employee at the hotel would undergo retraining:
On behalf of the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Newport News, Va. I want to apologize for the inappropriate behavior and comments of one of our employees from an incident that occurred on Friday, May 4. We are taking this matter very seriously and effective today (May 7, 2018), the employee in the video has been terminated. As a result of this incident we will also be re-training every employee this week on our code-of-conduct policies to help ensure something like this never happens again.
The incident involved Kelsey Cunningham's husband, Irby Fogleman, who shot video of the encounter at the hotel on J. Clyde Morris Boulevard.
Cunningham posted the video on the 13News Now Facebook page. It begins in the middle of an argument and shows the employee telling Cunningham’s husband, Irby Fogleman, and their family to “get off my property.” Cunningham is white. Her husband is black.
During the exchange, the employee calls Fogleman a “(expletive) monkey.”
Fogelman stated that the reason the employee had a problem with him was that the employee racist. The employee responded, calling Fogleman a crude term that did not have to do with race.
It was not clear how much of an exchange took place prior to Fogleman's recording.
Fogleman told 13News Now the family was at the hotel because his mother came to town to surprise everyone.
"She went and picked her own hotel, which I kind of regret now,” said Fogleman. "We get into the room, and smell smoke, and that was kind of alarming because she doesn't smoke."
Fogelman said his mother requested a non-smoking room. The family went downstairs to talk to the front desk clerk about the situation, and things escalated quickly.
Cunningham said she was horrified after seeing the video.
"I've seen it on Facebook. I've seen it on the news. I've seen it in other places. I think I was a little naive to think that it wouldn't happen to us, and here we are now, so that's why we reached out to you guys,” Cunningham said.
She posted a complaint on the hotel’s Facebook page, but said she never received a response.
13News Now reached out to Radisson Hotel Group, the parent company of Country Inn & Suites.
Ben Gardeen, Vice President for Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Americas provided us with this statement:
Thank you for bringing this video to our attention. We are immediately conducting an investigation into this incident at our Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Newport News, Virginia, an independently owned and operated property. The behavior and comments by this particular employee at this hotel are unacceptable and do not reflect our service expectations for the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson brand. We apologize and again will be immediately conducting an investigation into this incident.
Gardeen later sent a follow-up email to us stating:
The employee in the video has been suspended from the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Newport News, Va. while further investigation into this incident takes place.
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