City Worker Gets Suspended For Answering Calls With A Robot Voice

October 31, 2014 | Prachi Gupta

We all know this scenario: You’re sitting at a mind-numbing desk job with a boss who wants those damn TPS reports NOW, so to get through the day you take a cue from Peter Gibbons and fuck with people — perhaps by answering phone calls in a robot voice. No on gets hurt, you get a laugh, so it’s all good, right? Well, not so much for New York City Health Department worker Ronald Dillon, who got suspended from his job despite having worked there for nearly four decades without a single incident.

DNAinfo reports that Dillon, an IT help desk operator for the department, answered calls in an allegedly “deliberately robotic fashion” on “at least five occasions” between February and April 2013. It seems that his superiors were unimpressed by his “slow, monotone and over-enunciated manner” and escalated the issue to a disciplinary hearing. Dillon now faces a 20-day suspension, taken down from a 34-day suspension.

But for Dillon, it’s “a bullying in the workplace issue”:

“He contended that he articulates each word because he speaks fast and has aBrooklyn accent, which is sometimes difficult to understand,” the judge wrote in her decision.

Dillon also told her that he was not a “people person” and that his boss, Barry Novack, picked on him.
Dillon also told DNAinfo New York on Thursday that he was simply trying to appease his boss by making his voice sound neutral on the phone.

“They objected to the tone of my voice so I made it atonal,” he said.

But Miller found that the robot voice was intentional, calling Dillon a “disgruntled” employee who didn’t like his supervisor.

“There is a difference between speaking slowly and distinctly and speaking so robotically that callers did not believe that they were speaking to a person,” she wrote in her decision.

If only Peter were around to give Dillon some support right now.

(Photo: Wikimedia)