IT Worker Loses Dream Job Over...A Bacon Sandwich?

Manchester Evening News - Clive HuntWhen it comes to discussing religion or politics in the office, of course, tact is required. But just how tight-lipped should you be? Clive Hunt, a 58-year old IT consultant in Manchester, England, confronted this question head-on earlier this month when he offered to pick up "bacon sandwiches" during a meeting with a new client. That reportedly offended a Muslim co-worker -- and soon after, Hunt says that he was told that he lost his job. According to a report in the Manchester Evening News, Hunt says that a manager told him the decision was made because of his "racist remark."

Hunt says that he was in a meeting at a Manchester office of the Reed recruitment company to discuss an eight-month contract worth 32,000 pounds (or $50,000) to work with the British National Health Service, or NHS. And during the meeting, Hunt offered to pick up "bacon sandwiches," which as the Examiner points out, is "standard English breakfast fare." He didn't know that a colleague in the meeting, Sharika Sacranie, 29, was an observant Muslim, forbidden from eating pig products.

Hunt says that he didn't intend to offend anyone. "I'd never met [Sacranie] before," he told the Daily Mail, adding "we got on fine." But after the meeting, Hunt says that he received the call telling him that his services were no longer needed due to his "racist" remark -- an allegation that Hunt disputes. "There was no slur at her because I'd already met all the contractors on site before and one of them had actually told me they had really good bacon sandwiches."

Hunt added that Sacranie herself chose not to address the incident both when it happened and during a follow-up phone-call about the hiring process that took place before he was told that he was being let go. He said the job loss was a blow; he's been out of work for two months. Finally, Hunt claims to be bewildered that Reed had the power to terminate his employment. The "agency was just a middle man. How can it rescind an offer that was made to me by the NHS?" he asked the Daily Mail.

But according to John Spitzler, the president and principal recruiter for the Perimeter Consulting Group, an Atlanta-based executive search firm, it is common practice for search firms to rescind job offers. But in an interview with AOL Jobs, he said that the decision is usually the result of a criminal or other background check. "It's unusual for the choice to be made as a result of a cross-cultural insult, unintenteded or not," he said.

Both the NHS and Sacranie have turned down media requests for comment. The Reed staffing firm, however, did release a statement defending the decision and suggesting that Hunt made additional "inappropriate" comments during a phone call:

Due to inappropriate comments made to members of our staff during the recruitment process before Mr Hunt started his new role, we do not feel we can represent this candidate further. ... A senior manager from the Reed team spoke to Mr Hunt via telephone ... [d]uring that conversation, Mr Hunt made further inappropriate comments. At this point it became clear to the senior manager that Reed could no longer represent Mr Hunt.

Both side are in agreement about the charge that Hunt had a strong reaction to the news. In recounting to the Daily Mail the conversation he had with the Reed manager, he said that he "got so exasperated that [he] told him to 'sod off' and put the phone down.'"

Either way, Hunt's fall from grace is in keeping with a trend in Europe of workers running into problems for how they've handled religious matters in the office. Seven years ago, British Airways suspended clerk Nadia Eweida for refusing to take off her cross, saying that she wasn't in compliance with the airline's uniform code. Earlier this year, however, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled that the airline discriminated against her, and said Eweida had the right to wear a symbol of her faith.

This story was updated on Thursday, June 27, at 4:30 p.m. EDT with quotes from John Spitzler.

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1435 Comments

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annedyth

Really SHOULDN'T have fired him!

February 10 2014 at 7:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
loganbeachbum53

All you BBQ. places take down your signs an fast food places take pork off your menu we don`t want to insult anyone.

September 11 2013 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carlos The Great

He should sue for wrongful termination (if they have that in Europe)... What is wrong with people to be so dramatic and take such drastic measures for unintentional mistakes?

July 02 2013 at 11:03 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Paul Johnson

Somewhat insensitive and as a consultant he should know the company he is in and to be more polite and affable. He is now faced with trying to pull himself back up. No doubt he will learn from this as he struggles to pay expenses before his next gig. I found that I saved over 1,000 per year in RX costs by getting my free discount card at nationalprescriptiondiscounts when I was laid off.

July 02 2013 at 8:19 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Paul Johnson's comment
davisdavisdavisdavis

**** off, perspricption PAUL, dipshit !

July 02 2013 at 4:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
wtfiswrongwithuppl

Muslims. Taking over one country at a time.

July 02 2013 at 5:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to wtfiswrongwithuppl's comment
bwana00

''Muslims Taking over one country at a time.'' You are right. Now go to YouTube and type in '' while 20 million watch and worship ex factor '' Also Google '' Muslim demography ''

July 07 2013 at 10:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pearl Nestor

I don't hear a lot of liberal/socialist types weighing in on the subject, can be that even they are chagrined over the story? Can it be that maybe the pendulum has started to move toward logic and common sense and decency? Is there finally some hope that perhaps reason and enlightenment will once again rule in the world in all societies? Nawww, but I'm wondering why all the liberals are so scarce tonight! Judging by these comments tonight on this thread, I have a little bit of hope that reason may prevail again someday, I feel a little hope. I hope it to be so. If we don't outnumber these ninnies, God help us all.

July 02 2013 at 5:18 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
eyeforeye42

I would never eat pork after seeing a pig wallow in the mud and filth, I'll have an egg instead!

July 02 2013 at 4:42 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to eyeforeye42's comment
Pearl Nestor

I grew up in Wisconsin, cows are not all that pristine either, and those chickens eat the most grossest things. If you stop and think where most of your food comes from, it would be hard to eat. I have seen some things in my day.

July 02 2013 at 4:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bwana00

'' I would never eat pork after seeing a pig wallow in the mud and filth.... '' So if something you don't like ,it means it is no good, Is that what you are trying to tell us.? You filthy muslim See www.faithfreedom.org

July 07 2013 at 10:45 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
rafse5

I'm sure under Sharia law there is some provision that allows for the man's hand to be cut off so tat he can never pick up an offending bacon sandwich again. That should have been the punishment instead. How dare he have any sort of manners. After all, Al Qaida just beheaded a Franciscan monk. He probably was only guilty of offering them a pulled pork sandwich.

July 02 2013 at 4:08 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jeff

PC and "Zero Tolerance" have long equaled "zero intelligence!" I believe this man when he says his offer to pick up bacon sandwiches was entirely innocent and he had no idea he was "insulting" a practicing Muslim in the process (by the way, such an offer could also "insult" a practicing orthodox Jew, as well as some Christians who adhere very closely to Old Testament dictates about what can and can't be eaten). The fact that she didn't have AT LEAST the courtesy to say she was Muslim and didn't eat pork at the time shows just how cowardly AND backhanded her response to him was (unless he truly was also showing some sort of brutish, insensitive behavior beyond just that which doesn't appear in this story).

Either way, something that trivial should NEVER be a legitimate reason to dismiss someone (not unless they try to FORCE a forbidden food on someone, or wave it in their face, or act in a similarly rude and obnoxious manner). That it was simply shows how far down a ridiculously slippery slope many companies have gone.

What's really of concern is that when pendulums swing this radically in ANY direction there tends to eventually be a breaking point after which the momentum BREAKS and the pendulum often swings equally far in the other direction (look at some of the far-right backlash in America to some of the civil rights and womens' rights victories since the 60s). I think the time of THIS pendulum breaking is quite close, and I see someone like "Brutal" below calling these folks "PC Nazis" being a rather terrifyingly ironic term for the type of backlash we may begin to see if this sort of ridiculous PC "Zero Tolerance" stuff doesn't calm down, tone down and balance out VERY SOON.

There are already plenty of modern "Nazi skinheads" in both America and much of Europe. There are doubtless many more who sympathize with much they say and think, but don't want to be openly associated with them. Stories like the one of this man losing his job, however, just stoke that fire. I don't want to see things go there. I want a peaceful society. But in order to have that, people of all religions, classes, races and so forth need to learn to live together and get along and NOT to be so ultra-sensitive and expect to always be catered to like they're some sort of privileged characters, because NONE of us are.

If this sort of thing continues, those perceived to cause the most unrest and distress WILL become scapegoats. In this story it happened to be a Muslim woman. That's not good, since Muslims are already verging on pariah status in the Western World due to 9-11, the Taliban and Al Qaeda. I'm not someone who believes all Muslims are bad, evil or intolerant. People are people, regardless of race or religion. BUT, if people of any certain class demand special rights or recognition they WILL become targets. If those people happen to be Muslims, in Western Society, they're simply BEGGING to bring on the discrimination they already fear.
Jeff Hayes

July 02 2013 at 3:45 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jeff's comment
bwana00

Jeff '' There are already plenty of modern ' Nazis skinheads ' in both America and much of Europe '' So you know of Nazis skinheads but you don't know of extremists muslim both in America and Europe, how come? The Nazis skinheads are not trying to take over the world or change the way of life in any other countries .Where as muslim extremists are trying to take over other countries and change their way of life and introduce Sharia Laws , halal meat, halal banking and so on. Halal served to non muslim school children without the consent of their parents. Are you NOT aware of that?

July 07 2013 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
What's Shakin T

I'm usually against petty lawsuit of any kind---but hope this guy sues his employer for every dime he has.

July 02 2013 at 3:23 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

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