Wheatsville Food Co-op's top executive Dan Gillotte has resigned after a video surfaced of him singing a song that includes racial stereotypes of black men, the co-op's board has confirmed to the American-Statesman.
Gillotte, the co-op's chief executive grocer for nearly two decades, had posted the video of the song, called called "Condoms Over Combs," several years ago, but it wasn't until July that several employees and owners of the co-op brought it to the attention of the Wheatsville board. Gillotte removed the video from the Internet, stepped down from a national co-op board and was placed on administrative leave.
At a July 29 board meeting, current and former employees made a number of complaints, including allegations of workplace harassment and retaliatory management practices at both store locations.
Wheatsville's board said it would conduct a third-party investigation into the video and Gillotte's management of co-op employees.
The board now confirms that Gillotte resigned effective July 31. That same day, the American-Statesman had questioned the board about Gillotte's job status, about the allegations made at a July 29 board meeting and about the status of the third-party investigation.
The co-op's board did not respond until a followup inquiry this past week.
The board then sent the following statement to the Statesman: "The board voted to accept and to thank Dan for putting the co-op family first. We wish him the best as we all strive to learn from these experiences. It is not an action we celebrate; Dan has been an important and valued co-op employee for more than 20 years. During that time he has become a tremendous leader in the cooperative business community, and we know he will take that expertise with him on his future personal and professional journeys. As we look ahead, we are committed more than ever to our mission, and dedicated to creating a community that makes us all proud."
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The nine-person board has not posted the minutes from the July 29 meeting. It also has not responded to questions from the Statesman about those allegations, staff turnover and the other findings in the third-party investigation, including how many workplace complaints had been filed or addressed in recent years.
Wheatsville opened in 1976 near the University of Texas campus and expanded in 2013 with a second location on South Lamar Boulevard. The co-op has more than 21,000 member/owners. As of Monday, those member/owners had not been officially notified by the co-op of Gillotte's resignation.
Gillotte apologized in a resignation letter posted on Patch.com: "It has literally been my life's work to help Wheatsville grow and succeed, to help foster better people and a better world and to learn and grow as a person and a professional myself. And so it's with a heavy heart that I say goodbye as the CEG of Wheatsville. Resigning from Wheatsville is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But ultimately, my love and care for this great community grocery is why I decided to resign so that Wheatsville can recover from the recent tumult and bad feelings as wholly and as quickly as possible. I apologize again most sincerely to anyone I've let down or disappointed with any of my actions at the co-op or beyond."
Previous attempts by the Statesman to reach Gillotte for comment have been unsuccessful.