Man sacked for racism after calling colleague a ‘hash brown’ blames autocorrect

A man sacked for racism after calling a colleague 'hash brown' in an email has blamed autocorrect for the error.

People services administrator Ollie de Planta de Wildenberg was dismissed just four days into working full-time at Newcastle University.

He said hash browns are a 'a breakfast item' and not racist.

The message was deemed to contain 'perceived offensive, racial language'.

He described it as 'unfair' dismissal, saying the name of his female colleague had autocorrected to 'hash brown' on Outlook.

The 28-year-old was unaware of his mistake until he was spoken to by his line manager the following morning, on Sept 26.

He said: "I just thought 'oh my days'. I had not met or spoken to this woman before so I had no reason to call her a name.

"It was an informal meeting and he was laughing about it. He just told me to be more careful in future. I thought that was the end of it."

Hours later at a disciplinary hearing he was told the email being treated as a racial incident, and gross misconduct.

Later that day he lost his job after uni bosses were unable to replicate the autocorrect.

"Hash brown is not a racist term. It is a breakfast item," he added.

"It is a bit weird thing to call someone that intentionally. Why would I do it? To class it as gross misconduct is unbelievable. I didn't realise how serious they were taking it.

"The sanction bears no resemblance to what happened. I strenuously deny that this message had been sent deliberately. It was a typing error.

"Accidentally calling someone a hash brown is not racist. I was speechless when I was told I was sacked. How can someone perceive it as racism?"

Mr de Planta de Wildenberg, of Newcastle, was an agency staff member for five months before being taken on as a full-time. The decision was upheld after appeal.

Newcastle University confirm he was 'no longer employed' by them.

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