Indy Week reports Larry Moneta got 2 Joe Van Gogh employees fired over rap song

Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, was offended by a rap song he heard playing at Joe Van Gogh on Friday. Now, two employees have been fired over it, according to a report by the Indy Week.

Two baristas, Britni Brown and Kevin Simmons, were working Friday when Moneta entered the store for a muffin. The song that was playing at the time, "Get Paid" by Young Dolph, includes "n****" and "f***" in the lyrics. Moneta told Brown, who was working the register at the time, that the song was inappropriate, according to the Indy Week. 

Brown turned the music off immediately. She offered to give him the muffin and apologized, but he insisted on paying. Within ten minutes of him leaving the store, the baristas received a call from the store's owner, saying that Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, had called about the music. 

Both Brown and Simmons are contracted employees. Monday, the two were called into Joe Van Gogh's Hillsborough offices and told to resign. According to audio recordings of the meeting obtained by Indy Week, Amanda Wiley, from the coffee chain's human resources department, said they had received a call from Coffey about vulgar music playing.

“Duke University has instructed us to terminate the employees that were working that day,” Wiley said to the employees, according to the Indy Week.

Moneta wrote in an email to The Chronicle Tuesday afternoon that he went into Joe Van Gogh last week as he often does, and was shocked to hear lyrics that he "found quite inappropriate for a working environment that serves children among others." He specifically noted the lyric “I f**cked her up real good" in the Tuesday email. 

"I expressed my objections to the staff with whom I’ve always had a cordial relationship. I insisted on paying for my purchase and left the store. I then contacted the director of Duke Dining to express my concerns and that was the end of my involvement," Moneta wrote. "To those who feel that I’ve flipped on my positions on free expression, I say this. The artist who wrote, recorded and performed the music is absolutely entitled to do so, however offensive I might find the lyrics."

He wrote that how Joe Van Gogh's management chose to respond to the incident was their choice.

"The employees who chose to play the song in a business establishment on the Duke campus made a poor decision which was conveyed to the JVG management," Moneta wrote "How they responded to the employees’ behavior was solely at their discretion."

Coffey did not immediately return a request for comment.

Check back for updates.

Editor's note: This story was updated Tuesday afternoon with Moneta's comments.


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