Earlier this week, we reported a story about a conflict at a coffee shop on Duke’s campus that exploded into national news. Two employees, Britni Brown and Kevin Simmons, were fired from Joe Van Gogh’s Duke campus location after Larry Moneta, the vice president of student affairs, complained about the language of Young Dolph’s “Get Paid,” which was playing on Spotify over the shop’s PA during a busy service period.
The firings sparked a wave of outrage over how Moneta, Duke, and Joe Van Gogh treated the employees. Students protested at Moneta’s office, Joe Van Gogh owner Robbie Roberts apologized, and so did Duke president Vincent E. Price.
This afternoon, Joe Van Gogh announced that it is severing ties with Duke over the incident. In a statement posted on the Joe Van Gogh website, Roberts writes that he is ending his company’s relationship with Duke immediately “to preserve Joe Van Gogh’s brand independence without conditions.” He added that employees of that location will be transferred to other jobs within the Joe Van Gogh enterprise, and that reinstatement has been offered to the two employees that were fired.
“During the past several days, I have reflected on our core values and what I want to embrace and advocate as a small business owner,” Roberts wrote. “Joe Van Gogh has always been about bringing people together, not driving them apart. We are open to all people and we value people over our profits.”
You can read Roberts’ full statement here.