Exeter Uni lecturer fired ‘because of noise’ wins lawsuit against unfair dismissal

Dr Annette Plaut declares any negativity about her words or gestures as unconscious racism

A university lecturer fired for ‘screaming’ at a student has won a harassment lawsuit, claiming she couldn’t help her ‘naturally loud’ voice.

University of Exeter physicist Dr Annette Plaut – described as a ‘Marmite figure’ – also successfully sued for unfair dismissal and fell victim to her forced departure after 30 years.

The lecturer, whose parents moved from Germany before the Second World War, said her Eastern European Jewish heritage has given her the ‘inherent character of noisiness and a style of debate regarding interruptions and a lot of hand movement’.

Any negativity about her words or gestures is unconscious racist, she told the Exeter court.

Many students and colleagues liked Dr Plaut’s teaching style, but some colleagues found her ‘overbearing’ and ‘very annoying’, the hearing was told.

After opening an investigation, administrators suspended her for serious misconduct over ‘exaggerated’ claims that she shouted at a female student and shone a ‘laser’ in her eyes .

Dr. Plaut claims she has explained the scientific concept of saturation and used a desk lamp to shine on a student’s face to demonstrate it. She apologized for the incident.

A panel concluded that bosses at the university had ‘decided that Dr Plaut would not be tolerated any longer’ and used these statements as an excuse to fire her.

‘Dr Plaut is passionate about physics,’ the court said. ‘Although she may be trying to rein in her natural personality, it tends to come up when she starts discussing physics.

‘She tells her students what kind of person she is, and they shouldn’t be offended.

‘Over the years, some colleagues and some students have found this to be a bit overbearing, although Dr Plaut has told fellow students and colleagues that she makes no sense.

‘There is a view among some senior members of the department that Dr Plaut has been given permission for years to get away with behavior that is truly not tolerated.

‘Others appreciate her contribution and accept that she is not a nasty person even when loudly arguing in discussion.

‘Dr Plaut says any negativity towards her due to her interpersonal communication style is unconsciously racist as it is directly rooted in her inherent cultural upbringing. she.’

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Huynh Nguyen

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