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New York worker answered phones in 'robotic voice

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Ronald Dillon repeatedly affected a robotic tone when answering the IT help desk phone.

By Ben Hooper

NEW YORK, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A New York Health Department worker accused of answering phones "in an unprofessional, robotic voice" was suspended for 20 days without pay.

The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings upheld the suspension for Ronald Dillon, 66, an employee of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's IT help desk, after hearing how Dillon would answer the phone in the "slow, monotone and over-enunciated manner" resembling a robot voice.

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The voice fooled some callers, with one caller cited by the Health Department saying she thought the department had installed a new automated system.

Dillon was originally suspended for 34 days, but the amount was reduced to 20 days in a Feb. 14 decision by Administrative Law Judge Kara Miller. Dillon appealed the decision, but the suspension was upheld by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

The department said Dillon answered the phone in the robotic voice at least five times between February and April 2013. Dillon argued he was attempting to speak in a clear voice because his Brooklyn accent is often hard to understand, but Miller wrote Dillon appeared to be a "disgruntled employee who is acting out."

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"I find respondent guilty of answering the phone in an unprofessional, robotic voice," Miller wrote.

Dillon was also accused of failing to fulfill service requests, improperly transferring tickets to another desk and failing to accurately provide descriptions of requests.

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