A New York Health Department IT specialist has been ordered suspended for the second time for answering calls in a robot voice.  The man insists he was simply talking in that fashion in order to overcome a heavy Brooklyn accent, but an administrative law judge didn't buy it.

There's no doubt that everyone has felt frustration, even anger, when contending with those automated phone systems that handle calls for companies and government agencies. These days, it is almost expected that when we call one of these parties, our query will be picked up by some sort of computerized system that will have us forever pushing numbers ... "One for this, two for that, etc."

So imagine if you reached an automated system and it turned out not to be a computerized answering center at all but an actual human impersonating one. That's what callers to New York City's health department's IT help desk had to contend with when an employee responded to their calls in a "robot voice" that made it appear that they were not actually talking to a live person.

Robert Dillon consistently answered calls to his department in a robotic voice, stating in a staccato and monotone manner, "You have reached the Help Desk. This is Mr. Dillon. How may I help you?" While Dillon argues that his robotic style is unintentional, and merely an attempt to disguise his hard-to-understand Brooklyn accent, Administrative Law Judge Ingrid Addison disagreed, and slapped Dillon with a 30-day unpaid suspension recommendation, his second proposed suspension for the activity. In October 2014, he lost his appeal of the initial 20-day suspension for the same complaint.

The Health Department wants Dillon sacked this time, but while the judge didn't go that far, she warned, "Despite his long tenure, if respondent's insubordination persists, it could lead to his eventual termination from his employment." The department now has to decide whether to accept Addison's recommendation.

The department argues that Dillon's "unacceptable and unprofessional" phone persona is a case of revenge by a disgruntled employee who was unhappy with his transfer to the help desk after years of working directly on computers. His over-enunciated pronouncements caused callers to ask to speak to a human, believing that he wasn't one.

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