A consultant has been fired after saying the n-word during a virtual meeting of the Vermont Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.
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According to VT Digger, Steven Gayle, an employee of Resource Systems Group, said the word twice, unaware his microphone was active. The action was not immediately addressed due to occurring during an intermission and others being unaware. After video footage circulated among legislators and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, the move was made to reprimand the consultant for brazen behavior.
Video footage shows Gayle making the comments in question. He stated, “don’t believe this shit,” and, “they’ll say anything to get elected,” before exclaiming, “you know we arrested every N-word,” using the full racial slur. He says the word another time before the recording shifts focus to another person on the Zoom call.
According to the outlet, Gayle claimed to have mental issues and is in ongoing treatment. He informed the outlet through email correspondence that “an outburst while reading a news report, of course not realizing Zoom was on,” and stated he is “in counseling” for mental health.
Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn confirmed to VT Digger that Gayle was fired from duty. He spoke with Resource Systems Group CEO Stephen Lawe regarding the racist language used by their employee.
“It’s inexcusable. We won’t tolerate it,” Flynn said of Gayle’s remarks. “From what Mr. Lawe told me … they’re taking the appropriate actions.”
Warning: video contains explicit, racially charged language.
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Lawe issued an apology on behalf of the company, according to VT Digger.
“On behalf of the entire company, I apologize to anyone affected by these deplorable remarks,” Lawe said in the statement. “The outburst by an employee of RSG is both regrettable and unforgivable. This kind of behavior is not at all tolerated and the employee was terminated immediately.”
NBC 5 reported Balint called the language used by Gayle “abhorrent.”
“My understanding is that all committee members and staff were away from their computers at the time and that no one became aware of the issue until much later,” Balint said. “The legislature must be a venue that welcomes and supports the participation of all, and language that traumatizes people of color cannot stand.”
A spokesperson with the Agency of Transportation released a statement to the news outlet, to confirm Gayle’s termination.
“The Agency of Transportation and the State of Vermont will not tolerate racist conduct by consultants engaged by the State,” a release from the group read. “The Secretary of Transportation contacted the CEO of the company this morning, upon learning of this incident. The CEO has informed the Secretary that the company terminated Steven Gayle at 9:35 this morning.”
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