Academic who said dismissal over naturally loud voice was racist wins case
A senior academic who branded her sacking racist on the grounds that she has a naturally loud German voice has won her unfair dismissal case.
Dr Annette Plaut had worked as a physicist for three decades when she was let go by the University of Exeter.
But now she has proven that the uni unfairly pushed her out of the job after taking the institution to an employment tribunal.
Dr Plaut described herself as "inherently loud" and "naturally argumentative" and blamed her vigorous hand gestures on an inability to contain her passion for the subject the Independent reports.
A hearing heard that she was considered a “Marmite character” at the university, where students and colleagues accused of being "overbearing".
Some found the academic "highly uncomfortable" to deal with and management concluded that they could tolerate her no longer.
She faced a disciplinary probe after she was alleged to have shouted at a PhD student, but the tribunal found that the university used this as a pretext to get rid of her.
The expert on graphene was the first female in her department and specialises in lectures on experimental physics.
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Dr Plaut is set to receive a payout in compensation after suing for unfair dismissal, harassment and victimisation.
The scientists told the hearing in Exeter that her eastern European Jewish heritage makes her conversational style argumentative. She also said that discussions would feature a lot of interruption and hand movement.
Her parents moved to Germany before World War II and she joined the university's physics and astronomy faculty in 1990.
Dr Plaut claims there is nothing she can do about her excitable manner and the tribunal heard that even when she tries to "restrain her natural personality, it tends to emerge when she becomes engaged in discussion about physics".
A University of Exeter spokesperson said: “We believe there are inaccuracies in this Judgment and will be appealing the decision to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.”
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