Angry Orchard has fired two employees after a woman claimed she and her partner were racially profiled during a visit to the brewery. The alleged incident came just as her partner was trying to propose.
According to a Facebook post by Cathy-Marie Hamlet, the pair and a group of six friends decided to drive to the brewery in Walden, N.Y., to celebrate her partner’s 40th birthday.
During their visit, Hamlet’s partner led her out to the lawn, where he planned to propose, but before any questions could be asked, the couple was approached by security.
“[The guard] said to him, ‘I’m sorry sir, but I have to check your back pocket. I was told that you stole a t-shirt from the gift store,’” Hamlet wrote in the post. “My boyfriend then emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight.”
The female security guard then walked away but quickly returned to check Hamlet’s bag. At this point, Hamlet’s partner was mid-proposal. She emptied her bag and said to the guard: “I know you’re just doing your job, but I can’t help but wonder if this is because we’re black. We’re the only black people here at your establishment.”
Hamlet says the guard denied any racial motivation for the security checks. After the guard left, Hamlet’s partner continued with the proposal, to which she said yes. The couple’s friends joined them in celebration, while other visitors approached to congratulate them. But then, the same security guard returned accompanied by six other guards, and told Hamlet she needed to check the bags of everyone in the group.
“Of course my friends told them none of us stole a t-shirt from their establishment, at which point they started getting aggressive and saying that not only them, but [other] patrons [also] saw my boyfriend steal the shirt and/or transfer it to me to put in my bag!!” she wrote in the post.
According to Hamlet, another woman in the security team then yelled: “Call the police! I saw you steal it,” before she started taking pictures and videos of Hamlet and the group. At this point, the group (understandably) decided to leave Angry Orchard.
“On what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life, I was chased out of Angry Orchard by security who followed us all the way to the parking lot,” Hamlet wrote.
Angry Orchard has since fired the manager on duty at the time of the incident, and replaced members of the security team, according to a statement sent to PEOPLE.
“We reached out and spoke directly with the guest involved to express our sincerest apology and offered to make it right,” the Angry Orchard statement read. “We badly mishandled the situation and our team overreacted.” The company also said it would be putting all their employees through extra training on “security awareness and unconscious bias” to ensure an incident like this doesn’t happen again.