Loud academic wins unfair dismissal lawsuit against university | UK News
A seasoned scholar who claimed she was fired because her bosses could not tolerate her “naturally loud” voice and passionate teaching style won her case for wrongful dismissal.
Dr Annette Plaut, who had worked as a physicist at the University of Exeter for 30 years, was described as a “pot character” in court, liked by many but seen as “domineering” by others.
The university argued in court that she was fired for the way she treated two doctoral students, but Plaut claimed she suffered racial and gender discrimination.
In its judgment, the court said: “The racial discrimination claim is based on her Eastern European Jewish heritage, which she says gives her inherent characteristics (in the way she interacts with people). ) which she believes are the reasons for the way she treated her students.
“She says that as a woman she has been discriminated against because physics has long been dominated by men, and she says that a man would not have been treated that way. The university says that Dr Plaut’s behavior justified his dismissal, and that race and gender had nothing to do with it.
Plaut was the first woman in the department and claimed she had long struggled with unconscious bias, the court said.
She said her heritage meant she was naturally strong, her body language was demonstrative, and her conversational style was naturally argumentative. She compared it to people of Mediterranean heritage.
Plaut claimed that she gets loud when she gets excited or engaged in a subject, and because she is passionate about physics, this happens a lot. She told her students that she was like that and that they shouldn’t be offended.
The university said it was much more gender balanced than when Plaut joined Plaut. There was great diversity in the academic staff, many of whom were of Mediterranean descent, and Plaut’s claim that she had been treated unfairly because of “similar interpersonal characteristics” was incorrect.
He said she was seen yelling at students and colleagues and none of it had to do with whether she was female or Jewish.
The court concluded: “Senior management had decided that Dr Plaut would no longer be tolerated. The good things she had done over the years carried no weight. “
The court ruled that Plaut had been unfairly dismissed and the victimization and harassment complaints regarding her suspension on April 11, 2019 were successful.
The court did not find the allegations of racial and gender discrimination to be substantiated, except for one, that of harassment by suspending her for making a comment at her return-to-work meeting on April 3 2019.
The University of Exeter has been approached for comment.