Dr. Annette Plaut had been a member of the physics department at the University of Exeter for over 29 years before she was dismissed for her ‘loud’ voice. The university argued that she was fired over the way she dealt with two Ph.D. students. According to reports, the dismissal had nothing to do with her background, qualification, or sex.
The 59-year-old said she has a ‘naturally loud voice’, due to her middle-European Jewish background. She also believes this was the reason that led to her dismissal.
UK lecturer on the matter:
She said, “I have a naturally loud voice. As such I have no ability to sense when I am speaking loudly. The loud voice comes from my family background and is a perfectly normal and acceptable way to speak amongst people of middle and eastern European Jewish background.”
Following the controversial dismissal, Dr Plaut accused the university of being ‘institutionally unconsciously biased’.
She went on to say her loudness was never a problem when she lived and worked in New York and Germany.
“Only in Exeter have I been put under pressure to change this inherent characteristic that is fundamentally integral to me and who I am,” added Dr Plaut.
During a tribunal at Exeter last year, Dr Plaut said she would like her job back. What she got was a huge compensation.
The tribunal ruled that there was an entrenched bias against Dr Plaut in the human resources department and in the senior echelons of the university’.
The UK University had to pay an amount:
Employment Judge Paul Housego criticised the way Dr Plaut was treated and found the university guilty of unfair dismissal. As a result, the tribunal awarded the 59-year–old £1,01,000 in damages.
“There was a view amongst some senior members of the department that Dr Plaut had been allowed for years to get away with behaviour which should really not be tolerated. Others valued her contribution, and accepted that she was not an unpleasant person even when being loudly argumentative in the discussion,” the panel said.
Following the decision, a University from UK of Exeter spokesperson said they are appealing the decision of the employment appeals tribunal.
“We continue to believe there are serious inaccuracies in these judgments and we are appealing the decision of the employment appeals tribunal,” said the spokesperson.