Black Executive Declines Board Appointment After CEO Mistook Him For A Valet

Black Executive Declines Board Appointment After CEO Mistook Him For A Valet

A media attorney has withdrawn his bid to be a board member for the broadcast company Tegna, citing an incident where a board member mistook him for a valet.

According to The Hill, the incident occurred in 2014 at an industry dinner. Attorney Adonis Hoffman, who is Black, and CEO Dave Lougee were seated near each other at an industry dinner and had a significant discussion.

However, after the event, Lougee handed Hoffman his valet ticket as Hoffman was waiting for a cab, thinking he was an employee at the hotel. Lougee apologized to Hoffman and acknowledged the incident in an SEC filing.

Hoffman was nominated for the position in January but turned it down earlier this month when he realized during the hiring process the job could be seen as a conflict of interest with other work he does and also the incident with Lougee.

“I’m not offended to have been considered a valet…” Hoffman told the Hill. “What really took me back was him seeing people categorically. It wasn’t that he thought I was a valet but just another brown-skinned guy around whom he ascribed to that position.”

The filing was made public by the company earlier Tuesday.

“This unfortunate incident underscores just how important this work is for all of us,” Lougee wrote. “Tegna has taken specific actions to ensure our people, content, and company reflect the communities we serve, and we have established numerical goals to drive continuous improvement in the years ahead.”

In the filing, Lougee said he apologized, but Hoffman told St. Louis Today, “If he apologized to me at the time, I don’t remember it.”

Tegna has hired a law firm to review the incident and interview Lougee and asked its human resources officer to review Lougee’s company file.

Tegna created a chief diversity officer position last year and hired Grady Tripp to fill the position. However, Tripp reports directly to Lougee, creating its own conflict of interest.

Tegna is a broadcast and digital media company and marketing company based in Virginia. Last year, Byron Allen made an $8 billion bid to purchase Tegna.