Speaking Up For Those Who Can’t

| Working | February 4, 2014

(I work in the IT office for a small distribution warehouse. Normally there’s a manager and two staff to answer calls in regards to shipping. We have a third person who does a lot of our picking and heavy lifting. He’s autistic and does not speak, instead communicating via sign language. He’s worked with the company for about seven years. We have a new manager who has taken a rather strong dislike to him because he does not speak. He never answers phones because he doesn’t talk, but is a lovely chap with whom I have the occasional conversation in broken sign. One day the phone rings.)

Manager: *eyes the phone and then the picker* “[Picker], you answer the phone. Now!”

(The picker looks confused and begins to sign ‘No.’ However, the manager interrupts.)

Manager: “I don’t give a s***! It’s about time you did some work around here! Now answer that phone before I sack you on the spot!”

(The picker looks distraught and continues to attempt to explain via sign that he cannot speak, but the manager ignores him. After a few rings, he very slowly and reluctantly picks up the phone, nearly in tears. He puts it to his ear and someone starts speaking. However, as soon as they do, he starts to press one of the numbers on the phone-pad.)

Manager: “What the h*** do you think you’re doing!?”

(The picker ignores her and continues to press the button over and over. After a short time he puts the phone down, turns around, and walks off.)

Manager: “HOW DARE YOU WASTE A CUSTOMER’S TIME AND WALK AWAY FROM ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU! YOU’RE FIRED! GET THE F*** OUT OF HERE YOU F****** S***!”

(At this point the picker has walked away, and my coworker and I both feel bad for not interjecting. About half an hour later, the picker walks back into the room, followed by a man in a Hawaiian shirt. The picker says something in sign to the new man before pointing to the manager. The new man turns to the manager.)

Man: “You must be [Manager]. I had hoped to meet you under better circumstances, but instead it appears I will be meeting you under the guise of giving you your P45. My name is [Company CEO] and this is my brother, [Picker]. What you just did counts as discrimination against a worker. It was just cruel and completely out of line. I expect you to be out of this building within the next ten minutes; otherwise I’m going to call the police and have you forcefully ejected.”

(The manager’s face goes sheet white and she begins to stammer an apology, but the CEO has none of it and turfs her out. He double-checks with us as to what happened and checks the CCTV. Turns out he had been ringing into the office on his day off to make sure everything was all right and ended up having a conversation in Morse code over the telephone!)

1 Thumbs
4,237