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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Stammerer quits over role-play row
 Kevin Alderson
Kevin Alderson felt embarrased by his stammer
A crisp factory worker quit his job after he felt forced to take part in a role-playing session despite suffering from a severe stammer.

Kevin Alderson, 40, resigned from his 16,000 a year job as a technician saying Walkers crisps had not handled his complaint properly.

He told an employment tribunal in Newcastle that he had asked his line manager Mary King if he could be excused from the session.

But he insists he was "badgered" into taking part.

Mr Alderson, is being backed in his case by the British Stammering Association.


A stammerer hates being stuck on the spot in front of people

Kevin Alderson
He said: "I felt she (Mrs King) badgered me into taking part."

Earlier Mr Alderson, whose wife Lesley sat beside him at the hearing, told the panel how his disability embarrassed him during the role-playing session at work.

He said: "I stammered and stuttered badly and I was embarrassed very badly.

"A stammerer hates being stuck on the spot in front of people.

"I absolutely hate it because it puts the spotlight on you and it makes me more nervous than I already am."

The father-of-two, who has now taken a job labouring on building sites, was cross-examined by Guy Bredenkamp for the snack food firm.

Mr Bredenkamp asked Mr Alderson: "Do you not think it reasonable for Mrs King to encourage you to go beyond what you would strictly want to do all the time?"

He replied: "Not regarding my speech impediment, no. Is she an expert on speech therapy?"

'Enjoyed virtually everything'

Mr Bredenkamp said the claimant had filled in an evaluation form after the role-playing course which indicated Mr Alderson had enjoyed the session, which took palce in 1999.

The claimant agreed he had enjoyed "virtually everything", but said he made comments on the form expressing his unhappiness at having to speak during the role-playing session.

Mr Alderson, of Oswald Terrace, Easington Colliery, County Durham, resigned in May 2000 after 23 years with the factory in Peterlee.

Since then he has received psychiatric treatment and has suffered depression.

He claims constructive dismissal and that he was the victim of disability discrimination.

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See also:

04 Jun 99 | Education
Bullies target stammerers, says study
12 Nov 98 | Health
Stammerers get helpline
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