A former intern for the Real Salt Lake soccer franchise says he was let go after speaking up about racist and hateful language in the workplace.
The internship with the athletic training staff was a dream come true for the man, who 2News has agreed not to name.
“I loved it, it was great,” he said.
But from the first week in the locker room, his dream soured.
“Comments such as, ‘Oh, Latinos are so lazy, they’re so dirty,’” he said.
The comments – directed at him – came from an equipment manager, he said. The pointed insults were heard by a lot of people.
“You mother f’er or hey, b----,” he recalls. “Things like that.”
He says it went on for months until finally, he sent emails to team owner, Dell Loy Hansen, and then-President Bill Manning. 2News reviewed the emails date stamped October 16, 2014.
He got a prompt response – an email from then-General Manager, Garth Lagerway.
The response – also reviewed by 2News – includes an apology.
“ I am sorry to hear about this and interested to hear your story. I am back in the office next week. Could we meet then?”
The former intern says he responded, indicating he was free at any time to meet with Lagerway.
But the next phone call he says he got came from his immediate supervisor on the athletic training staff.
“He contacted me saying that he received a phone call from Mr. Hansen that I have emailed him about the situation and that he wasn’t happy about it,” the former intern said.
His internship was terminated immediately, he says.
He considered going public with this experience back then but opted against it.
Six years later, he changed his mind after watching a 2News interview with RSL Scout Andy Williams.
Williams recounted a conversation he had with Hansen, in which Hansen allegedly used the N word during a story about a workplace issue.
“He was bringing up a story about one of our equipment managers that was like caught saying some words to an intern and all of a sudden [the n word] came up,” Williams said Friday.
“Me and my wife were watching this and immediately we’re like – that’s me!” the former intern said.
Now, he says he just wants to help make RSL becomes a better place for everyone to work.
“Nobody deserves being treated this way,” he said.
The former intern went on to say that he heard the same equipment manager use derogatory language towards others, including the ‘n word’ toward players.
“I don’t know if that was their relationship as far as it’s OK if you use it and say it towards me or if it was just the same thing – he would just say what he wanted and no one would say anything,” he said. “Whether it’s playing around or anything – that’s unacceptable.”
RSL team spokesperson Matt Gaschk said Saturday evening the league investigation precludes him from speaking about the allegations.
He said the staff member accused in the story is no longer with the team, for reasons unrelated to the former intern.