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RBS call centre worker 'bullied out of her job after becoming pregnant'

Posted on Aug 04 2010
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Mrs. Kneale, a call centre worker, told the tribunal in Liverpool how she was "singled out" by temporary manager David Flatley after he learned of her pregnancy. Wearing a grey suit she told the hearing: "After I told people at work about the pregnancy Dave Flatley suddenly became aggressive towards me and would often shout at me. "I was frightened by him and he embarrassed me on a number of occasions. "On the day I announced I was pregnant it turns out that RBS had started monitoring my calls which they say was purely coincidental."
Mrs. Kneale, 26, from Tuebrook, Merseyside, gave birth to her son  Jack in December last year. RBS Insurance Ltd said she was dismissed for gross misconduct after an investigation showed she avoided calls with customers over a four-month period at its call centre at Cavern Court, Mathew Street, Liverpool. Mrs. Kneale refutes the allegation that she is a "serial call avoider" and said that a faulty headset was to blame for the problems with the calls.
She said: "I believe the fault had been there for a long time in my headset. I constantly reported it and asked for a new one but nothing was done." The tribunal heard how records of customer calls for the month of May 2009 were discounted from the investigation after the firm accepted there was a headset fault.
The firm rejected suggestions from Mrs. Kneale's solicitor, Mr. Terry Craven that records of other quickly-terminated calls were a symptom of the faulty headset. Dave Rossall, performance excellence manager at RBS Insurance, oversaw the appeal for Mrs. Kneale's dismissal and decided to uphold the decision, saying she was removed for "cutting off customers" and "not speaking to them in the appropriate way". He said: "A decision had to be made. We have more than 12,000 employees working in call centres and have targets of consistency that must be achieved. "According to the seven month report from January to June, Mrs. Kneale avoided around 75 calls from customers. "This could not be brushed under the carpet."
Mr. Craven said his client had suffered two miscarriages before giving birth to Jack and that no formal health assessment was carried out by her employers after they heard she was pregnant. Her husband Robert Kneale told how, after she disclosed her pregnancy, his wife had complained about being "picked on" by Mr. Flatley. Mr. Kneale said: "We told Stacey's colleagues that she was pregnant at a party in May 2009.
"But shortly after that she became subdued and upset because she was being singled-out and bullied at work by her manager Dave Flatley. "I told Stacey to ignore it but the behaviour continued for a number of weeks. "She was suspended not long after that and it caused her great stress and anxiety.
"Our relationship suffered as a result and caused Stacey to doubt whether she could have any more children after the discrimination." Mrs. Kneale is claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance Ltd and Mr. Flatley. The case continues.
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