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Stuttering and my job.

 
 
Reply Fri 18 May, 2012 03:49 pm
I was hired at a call center in October of 2011 because one of my friends that who is a manager told me I should apply. I didn't feel comfortable with applying at a collections call center and didn't even think they would hire me because I have stuttered all my life and people get very angry when they receive calls from debt collectors and I get very nervous and stressed when people are yelling and cursing at me so my stuttering becomes even worse than it normally is. I really needed a job at the time so I applied and surprisingly was hired. After training I was assigned to and easy queue where I didn't have to make outbound calls but take inbound calls. I became a very good agent and even received recognition several times for my quality scores. Over the past 3 months, everything has started to change dramatically. The started adding all kinds of new critical fails to our quality score sheets and changed what we could tell customers. Plus the company that I work for announced a new settlement over national television that caused our calls to become back to back from customers wanting to take part in the new settlement. Most of the customers that called in were not eligible for the settlement and when we told them that, they became very angry and would cuss us up and down the wall and there was nothing that we could do about it but sit there and take it. I naturally became more and more stressed and was having a lot of trouble talking on the phones. It has gotten so bad and every time I get a call I freeze and cannot even say my greeting. I'll try for over 30 seconds to talk and cannot say anything. I knew this was gonna get me in trouble on my quality scores so I went to my manger who is also the friend who told me to apply and told him I was having trouble and asked if there was anything we could do. He took me to our account manger who then took me to our site director to flat out told me that this is a call center and I had to deal with it. I went back on the phones and it continued to get worse and worse. It has gotten to the point now that I cannot speak at all on the phones. I completely freeze.

Today I was at work for 3 hours and could not even take one call because every time a call cal to me, I froze. My manger pulled my off the phone and took me into a meeting with our account manger and tried to write me up for call avoidance. I told them that I was not avoiding calls. I try to answer the phone but I cannot speak and I cant help it. They still tried to write me up and told me that if I got back on the phones, I had to answer or they would write me up again for call avoidance. They then flat told me to start answering the phone or go home.

I need some advise on what I can do about this. Any feedback will be appreciated.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Fri 18 May, 2012 04:13 pm
@sdoshier,
First, that's tough, sdoshier, and I'm sorry you have to deal with it.

In terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act* and what responsibilities your employer has to you, I'm afraid that you don't have a lot of recourse. You are protected if you can fulfill the "essential functions" of the job. If you are unable to speak, then you can't perform the essential function of this job.

Are there any jobs available at the call center that are less stressful? It sounds like it's a pretty general thing.

Also, are there any options for text-based communication? Online customer service, replying to emails, that sort of thing?

If there aren't, then I think your only option is to focus on mastering the stutter, or find a new job. Have you had any luck thus far with trying to overcome the stutter with training?

*This is if you're in America, but you might not be.
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