AUGUSTA — An employee of the Red Barn has been taken off the restaurant’s work schedule after racist remarks he made to a person of color via an Instagram direct message, prompting a video apology posted to the restaurant’s social media account.

Peter Benedict, a manager at the Red Barn, confirmed Friday that the employee in the video was 19-year-old Brady Maheux, a grand-nephew of owner Laura Benedict. He said no permanent decision about Maheux’s employment had been made by Friday evening.

Peter Benedict said Maheux was “a good kid” who made a “bad decision.”

“He knew way before anything even started,” Peter Benedict said. “He’s not a racist kid.”

The incident on Tuesday this week came to light after the user of an Instagram account, FBCCBayArea, publicized comments Maheux made to him in a direct message. It also shows Maheux’s Facebook page and place of work. The account holder said he would speak with Maheux’s manager at the restaurant in the morning.

Maheux’s original Instagram post, which has since been deleted, called the person a “disrespectful (N-word).”

“A man came to you and respectfully disagreed and all you to say was call him a dumbass. I think it’s funny something so simple, offends a simple group of people. America would be so boring without blacks.”

Peter Benedict said his wife saw a private message from FBCCBayArea in the Red Barn’s Facebook inbox. After a meeting with Maheux and other Red Barn executive staff members, it was decided to remove him from the schedule until further notice.

“As far as firing him and (him) never coming back, I can’t really say that’s the case,” Peter Benedict said.

Peter Benedict said the FBCCBayArea user and Maheux spoke on the telephone and Maheux apologized. He also said FBCCBayArea did not want Maheux to be fired over this incident. Peter Benedict was not aware of what sparked the racially charged comments. Maheux said during that staff meeting that he would make a video to apologize and post it to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The video was posted on Thursday night, and it shows Maheux apologizing for his conduct.

“Two nights ago on Instagram, I got into an altercation with somebody who I met with obscene racial insults and remarks in an attempt to offend them and get under his skin,” he said. “In doing so, I’ve learned the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn in my life and have affected my entire family and put them through this unnecessarily.”

Comments on the post generally support Maheux getting his job back, but others condemned the restaurant for handling the situation publicly.

Laura Benedict posted a message along with Maheux’s video saying: “Yesterday I was made aware that a Red Barn employee showed a serious lack of judgment by using racially inappropriate language on social media. Understandably, backlash from this comment has been fierce and emotionally charged, from all over the country. I expect better from our staff, and this young man’s poor choice can not be tolerated. As he attempts to right this wrong, he has made a video to share.”

The Kennebec Journal requested comment from FBCCBayArea, whose profile says he is fashion and footwear designer, and did not  receive a reply immediately.

The Red Barn and Laura Benedict have stirred up controversy with Facebook videos before. In 2017, the owner posted a video — that amassed 1.4 million views before being taken down — to protest a noise complaint, but erroneously stated that it was a fundraiser to benefit military members. The noise complaint, which eventually was settled, was given for a concert that was not a fundraiser.

 

Sam Shepherd — 621-5666
[email protected]
Twitter: @SamShepME

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