A bar owner in Michigan is facing serious heat after one of his employees was given an offensive gift on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the New York Daily News reports.
Kelly Martin Aimery, the mother of one of his employees, says that her daughter — a biracial woman — was given a watermelon as a gift on MLK Day, with the words "Happy ½ MLK" and "Happy black day" written on it in Sharpie.
"My daughter got this on MLK Day because her work, including her boss, thought this was OK. It is NOT. 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,'" Aimery wrote in a Facebook post.
She urged readers to help spread the word and her post has since been shared several hundred times.
On Monday, the bar's owner, Rob Hearit, responded to the controversy in a Facebook post of his own, confirming that his employees had given the unnamed employee a watermelon as a gift and taking responsibility for his role in what happened.
"As owner and manager, I take full responsibility. I saw the 'gift' and I didn't stop it. In fact, in a lapse of judgment, I also joined our employees in signing it," he wrote. "While I thought it was an innocent inside joke between employees who are friends, as the owner I should have recognized the inadvertent message, stepped in and stopped this behavior."
Hearit added that he plans to join his employees in undergoing diversity and sensitivity training. Read his full statement below.