Tess Riski

Charlie Olson, owner of Blue Moon Burgers, posted a statement on Facebook this morning confirming that he participated in a racist iMessage exchange on a company iPad.

In the exchange, another employee who has not yet been identified sends Olson a photo of three black employees with the line "All the n*****s." Olson responds, "That's what prison looks like." The message with the slur was allegedly sent by the employee to Olson on iPads at the restaurant's Capitol Hill location. The photo of the text message circulated around social media over the weekend.

In a previous statement on Facebook, Olson denied the claim that he participated in the exchange and said an employee had logged onto the iPad and sent a message under his name instead.


From his statement this morning:

Nearly three years ago, I made a terrible error in judgement, participating in a private text exchange that was horribly inappropriate. Since then, I’ve reached out to those involved to offer my sincere apologies.

As part of this issue, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was asked to investigate my explanation that this was a single – but nonetheless deplorable – failure on my part.

We assisted the EEOC in its exhaustive, 18-month investigation, which included extensive interviews with our staff, and a review of our policies and practices. At the conclusion of the investigation, after weighing all the information, the EEOC decided not to move forward.

As I shared with the team when I apologized back in 2014, I asked them to weigh my actions with what they knew about me and our organization. I am proud that we’ve created an organization that embraces diversity, with a third of our workforce made up of minorities, and about half women, including members of our leadership team.

Charlie Olson

“While I was not the one in the conversation using the N-word, that does not absolve me of participating in the conversation, or my comments in reply. This was my lapse of judgement, and I take responsibility for it,“ Olson told The Stranger in a separate statement.

UPDATE 6/20/2017, 12:52 p.m: A previous version of this story stated that Olson was the one who wrote the n-word in the text exchange. In fact, he sent the messages in gray in the photo above, including the line "That's what prison looks like." The Stranger regrets the error.