Gay man considers legal action over voice discrimination
A bank is being threatened with a law suit after a man was repeatedly denied access to phone banking because staff thought he sounded like a woman.
Graham O’Brien, 29, is a customer with the Halifax.
After several attempts to conduct bank transactions over the phone were unsuccessful, he was told to visit a branch.
When he did, he was told that a “suspect person” thought to be a woman had been trying to access his account, which had been suspended.
Mr O’Brien, a law lecturer from Leeds, the officially complained to the bank, who admitted in writing that:
“Having passed our security requirements you were transferred to an operator who garnered the impression the individual accessing your account was female.”
Mr O’Brien’s partner, Julian Achilli, told the Daily Mail:
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“Just because he’s got a bit of a squeaky voice, why can’t they accept that he is who he says he is?”
Despite assurances from the bank that the mix-up will not happen again and an apology, Mr O’Brien is considering his legal options.
“I feel I have been humiliated and alienated,” he said.
“There’s the patronising way they’ve spoken to me and there’s the humiliation of going into the branch and dealing with it.”
Mr O’Brien may have a valid claim for sexual discrimination against Halifax.
“Just because a man has a high-pitched voice, does that mean it’s a woman? They’re labelling it. They’re saying, “You’re not who you say you are.””