In case you haven't heard about this story making national headlines, let me quickly fill you in. On February 8th, Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, an Idaho executive with AGC Aerospace and Defense, was on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. Seated next to him was Jessica Bennett, 33, and her 19-month old son Jonah. On the descent into Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, young Jonah began to cry, as babies often do when there is a change in altitude.
In response to Jonah's crying, Mr. Hundley told Ms. Bennett to "shut that Nigger baby up," according to Ms. Bennett. Not believing she heard him correctly, Ms. Bennett asked him, "What did you just say?" Mr. Hundley leaned in and repeated the ugly words in her ear then slapped Jonah across the face. Todd Wooten, another passenger, claims to have witnessed the slap and stepped in to assist Ms. Bennett along with other passengers, according to court papers.
Mr. Hundley has since been charged with simple assault by an Atlanta federal court and faces penalties of up to a year in jail. Mr. Hundley has plead not guilty.
In addition to the assault charge, there has been a new development in the case. It seems Mr. Hundley's employer has let him go from the company. A statement on the company's website reads as follows:
“Reports of the recent behavior of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel are offensive and disturbing. We have taken this matter very seriously and worked diligently to examine it since learning of the matter on Friday afternoon. As of Sunday, the executive is no longer employed with the company."
I'm proud of the company's swift response. It sends a clear message that racist behavior on the part of its employees will not be tolerated or excused, no matter how high their position is within the company. I wish more companies did this.
Check out a recent news report on the incident and hear Jonas's parents describe the ordeal in their own words and its effect on their young son.