BT engineer sacked for calling female motorist ‘silly cow’ in road rage drama

The stunned woman made a complaint to Openreach about BT engineer Colin Aldred’s behavior and it turned out he had already been given a written warning over his ‘road rage’ previously.

Colin Aldred was driving his work BT Openreach van when he had a near miss (stock image)

A BT engineer was sacked after calling a female motorist a “silly cow” and “squaring up to her” during a road rage incident, a court heard.

Colin Aldred, from the North West, was driving his work BT Openreach van when he had a near miss which resulted in him shouting a “torrent of foul language” at the woman.

Mr Aldred then got out of his car and the woman said he “squared up to me in quite an aggressive manner”.

The stunned woman made a complaint to Openreach about Aldred’s behavior and it turned out he had already been given a written warning by BT over his road rage previously.

Mr Aldred, a customer service engineer, worked for Openreach from April 2007 until April 2020. As part of his job he attended yearly training about how to treat the public with respect.

In a previous incident, he got out of his car at a KFC drive-thru and “aggressively” charged at an NHS doctor.

The stunned woman made a complaint to Openreach about Mr Aldred’s behavior (stock image)


SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

He then went to verbally abuse the female driver and after being investigated he was later sacked and told his bosses to “stick my job up your arse”.

However, after disagreeing with his sacking, Mr Aldred sued Openreach over his sacking, where a judge ruled there was “absolutely no excuse” in abusing the woman and that the engineer was lucky to “keep his job for so long”.

Due to a fault in Openreach’s sacking procedure, Mr Aldred won one claim of unfair dismissal on a technicality but he wasn’t awarded any compensation.

The company is part of BT and is responsible for maintaining telephone lines which connect British homes and businesses to the national broadband and telephone network.

Manchester Employment Tribunal heard complaints were made about Aldred in February 2017 when an Openreach customer complained about him.

In October 2017, at Penketh telephone exchange, Cheshire, Aldred angrily swore at a staff member.

A tribunal report said: “Aldred told the tribunal that he was desperate for the toilet that day and had in fact soiled himself and in frustration had sworn at the member of staff.

“The [staff member]who had refused Aldred access, had done so because he had not provided the correct security pass.”

In October 2018, there were concerns about Aldred’s behavior as was found to have been rude at a doctor.

The report said: “A member of the public who was a medical doctor in the NHS complained to Openreach about the behavior of Aldred.

“He gave a detailed account explaining that Aldred was behind the doctor at the drive-through when he beeped the horn of his vehicle and shouted expletives including ‘I haven’t got all fucking day’.

“When the doctor asked the claimant to stop, he alleged the claimant became more aggressive.

“The doctor got out of his vehicle to take a photograph of the number plate of Aldred’s vehicle.

“He said Aldred then exited his vehicle and aggressively advanced toward the doctor shouting that if he had a problem, he should square up to him face to face.

“The doctor had a young child in the front seat of the vehicle who was becoming distressed.”

In that instance, Mr Aldred was suspended and given a written warning, admitting that he shouted “I only have 45 minutes for lunch.”

And in December 2019 he verbally abused the female driver, with the report saying: “The member of the alleged public Aldred had been traveling at speed and almost ‘ripped off my door’.

“She admitted she had not seen the van coming around the corner.

“She put her hand up to apologize to the driver and was rewarded with a ‘torrent of foul language being shouted at me through the window’.

“She then said that she walked around the corner to where the vehicle was parked, and a middle-aged man got out and began to ‘square up to me in quite an aggressive manner’.

“She admitted to swearing at him in response to his manner.”

The court heard how Colin Aldred had reported the near miss but did not tell his boss about his offensive remark. He later admitted calling the woman a “silly cow” but denied confronting her.

He was later sacked in April 2020 but claimed it was “unfair” at court.

Employment Judge Katherine Ross said: “Even if he felt frustrated, Aldred should not have used offensive language in those circumstances.

“There is absolutely no excuse for it. We find Aldred was 100 per cent to blame.

“We have had regard to the evidence which shows that he had been involved in a series of incidents during the course of his employment where he had behaved offensively towards members of the public, another employee and his manager.

“A disinterested observer might consider that Aldred had been fortunate to keep his job for so long.”

Judge Ross said his dismissal was a “reasonable response” by Openreach. However, Aldred’s claim of unfair dismissal succeeded as he was not given a recording of a witness statement before he was sacked.

His compensation was reduced by 100 per cent as the judge ruled he would have been sacked even if correct procedures were followed.

Mr Aldred also brought claims of disability discrimination and harassment against his employer, alleging that he was discriminated against on grounds of his “stress and anxiety”. However, his claims of him were thrown out.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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