A British man believes he lost a $50,000 contract with the National Health Service because he unwittingly told his Muslim recruiter that he would treat her to a bacon sandwich.
Clive Hunt, 58, is an IT contractor. He says he was given an eight-month contract paying about about $1,570 a week and totaling more than $50,000.
He said he had a 15-minute meeting with recruiter Sharika Sacranie, 29, in Manchester during which he gave her his passport and bank information. As he was leaving. Sacranie allegedly said she would meet him for breakfast the following week. Hunt promised his would "get the bacon sarnies in" – which is slang for bacon sandwiches.
“There’s nothing racist about it," Hunt told the Daily Mail on Sunday. "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. I don’t even know whether Sharika is a Muslim or not. I’d never met her before that day but we got on fine.”
Hunt said after he left, he got another call from Sacranie to confirm details, but she did not let on that she had been offended by his earlier remark.
Ten minutes later, he got a call from a senior manager who withdrew the NHS job offer. He claimed Hunt made racist comments to Sacranie, who is believed to be Muslim.
“Later, as I was driving home, Ms. Sacranie’s manager called me and wanted to know about the racist remark I had made," Hunt told the Manchester Evening News. "I said I had not made one, and he said I had said that I would get her a bacon sandwich. But I only made the remark because she referred to breakfast."
He added: “The woman was of Asian appearance. I am not a racist, never have been. I wasn’t brought up that way. Bacon sandwiches are often eaten at breakfast. I didn’t think for a minute this would have caused offense otherwise I wouldn’t have said it. I have lost a contract because of an unassuming remark about a bacon sarnie. I have been an IT contractor for 30 years and never been subjected to this.”
Hunt was reportedly “over the moon” when he got the contract.
“I just can’t believe it," Hunt told the Daily Mail. "I’m not a racist, and I only offered to buy her a bacon sandwich because she said she was coming for breakfast. It was an off-the-cuff comment.”
A spokesperson for the Reed recruitment firm said that during his telephone call with the manager, Hunt continued to “made further inappropriate comments."
“At this point it became clear to the senior manager that Reed could no longer represent Mr Hunt," said the spokesperson to the Manchester Evening News. "Reed is committed to supporting its staff, clients and candidates and this is not a decision we have taken lightly.”
“When the manager rang me up to accuse me of making a racist remark, he just kept telling me I should admit to my wrongdoing," Hunt said. "But eventually I got so exasperated that I told him to ‘sod off’ and put the phone down.”
Furthermore, Hunt is not even sure how the recruiter can nix an agreement with the NHS if he already had the contract.
“I’ve been out of work for two months so this is a massive blow for me," Hunt said. "I was under the impression that the agency was just a middle man. How can it rescind an offer that was made to me by the NHS?”
The NHS was not available to comment Sunday.