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City Worker Fined for Talking in Robot Voice Does it Again

By James Fanelli | September 29, 2015 7:40am
 Ronald Dillon, a longtime city Health Department employee, was suspended for 20 days without pay after he repeatedly answered customer service calls in a robot voice, according to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.
Ronald Dillon, a longtime city Health Department employee, was suspended for 20 days without pay after he repeatedly answered customer service calls in a robot voice, according to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.
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NEW YORK CITY — The city keeps telling him to stop speaking in a robot's voice, but the warning does not compute with him.

A city Health Department worker who has previously been disciplined for answering an IT help-desk phone in his best android impression faces a 30-day suspension for again bucking his supervisors' orders and greeting callers as a robot. 

A city administrative judge ruled in a Sept. 15 decision that Ronald Dillon should be suspended without pay for 30 days for twice talking in a robot voice and for other infractions.

The Health Department must still approve the disciplinary recommendation from Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings Judge Ingrid Addison. But Dillon received a 20-day suspension in 2014 following a separate hearing in which he was accused of answering customer-service calls in a robot's voice on at least five occasions in 2013.

The latest ruling came after a July 23 hearing in which the Health Department played a March 6, 2014, recording of him speaking like Siri while working on the IT help desk.

Judge Addison said in her decision that Dillon "stated in a slow, stilted and monotonous voice, 'You have reached the Help Desk. This is Mr. Dillon. How may I help you?'" After the introduction, Dillon returned to a regular tone and speed in conversation, the judge said.

The Health Department also presented an email from a senior director at the agency who complained to Dillon's supervisor that Dillon also spoke in a robotic voice to him during a customer-service call on March 18, 2014.

Addison determined that Dillon talked like a robot in both instances despite "being instructed by his supervisor, both verbally and in writing, that to do so was unacceptable and unprofessional."

The judge also found that he neglected customer-service assignments, ignored his supervisor's requests and purposely misdirected calls on several occasions in 2015.

Dillon declined to comment on the charges, stating he wouldn't be free to discuss the judge's decision until next week.

He previously told DNAinfo New York that he doesn't talk like a robot. Rather, he said, he was speaking in a neutral manner to appease his supervisors, who complained about his tone of voice.  

Dillon has worked for the Health Department since 1976 and holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and an MBA. He previously told DNAinfo that for many years he was a project manager and supervisor in the Health Department.

But he said about three years ago, against his objections, he was ordered to transfer to the help-desk job, even though he didn't have any experience in customer service.

Addison said in her decision that Dillon seems to have a chip on his shoulder about his position at the Health Department.

"What was apparent from his rambling explanation and his general testimony was that he felt his skills and education to be superior to the requirements of his current job, especially given the kinds of projects to which he had been previously assigned," she said.