28-year-old Ollie De Planta, a Newcastle University employee, has been fired after calling his colleague a ‘hash brown’ in an email.
After working full-time for the University for only four days, but the message was deemed as ‘offensive’ due to its ‘racial language’ and so he was swiftly let go.
De Planta claimed that his firing was ‘unfair’ and blamed Outlook’s autocorrect feature.
He claims to have been completely ignorant to his mistake until his manager brought him in for a talk the following morning, on September 26.
“When I was told, 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.”
According to De Planta, his boss dismissed the incident as a mistake.
“It was an informal meeting and he was laughing about it. He just told me to be more careful in the future and I thought that was the end of it.”
Only a few hours later, De Planta was brought into a disciplinary hearing where he was told that there was an investigation into his email, as it was being treated as a ‘racial incident’. They found him guilty and he was fired from Newcastle University shortly after.
De Planta retains his stance as innocent, as he said, “The sanction bears no resemblance to what happened. I strenuously deny that this message had been sent deliberately. It was a typing error. There is nothing to suggest this is racist.”
Rabeeyah Cheema, NUSU’s Racial Equality Officer, told the Courier: “I’m glad the University is taking strict and significant measures against racism and I hope they have the same attitude towards other incidents.”
However, some students and members of the public believe that the University’s action has been too extreme. A second-year Newcastle University student stated:
“I don’t really know where I stand on the whole situation. If it was deliberate then it’s definitely the right decision, but there’s no way of knowing.”
In the comments of The Chronicle article about the incident, many people called the University’s reaction “ridiculous”.
Featured Image: Wikimedia Commons
Last modified: 2nd December 2019