You Won’t Believe This Tribunal Case!

We regularly bring you employment tribunal cases that might make you blink, or throw up your arms and say “I don’t believe it!”

Following this practice we invite you to read on and assess your reaction!

This case involves a barber who was sacked after phoning in sick on the Monday following a weekend house party which followed a pattern of such absences.

She won more than £3,000 after a tribunal said her boss had failed to follow a ‘fair process’ before dismissing her. It all comes down to HOW you do things that count.

Salon owner Christian Donnelly warned Celine Thorley ‘not to let him down’ next week when she told him she was having people over on the Saturday night.

When she texted him on the Monday saying she had stomach ache and could not get out of bed, he said he’d ‘had enough’ of her calling in sick after a ‘good weekend’ and sacked her.

But she has now won an unfair dismissal claim after an employment tribunal ruled she had been genuinely ill.

The hearing was told Miss Thorley began working at Acute Barbers in the Cardiff University student union building in 2018, earning roughly £16,000 a year.  Her boss thought she was a ‘friendly and talented’ barber but their relationship came under strain when she developed a pattern of calling in sick on Mondays, the tribunal heard.

Mr Donnelly said that, in her first year of working, she had more time off than all of her colleagues ‘combined’.  He claimed these sickness days fell conveniently on Mondays and Tuesdays after a heavy weekend, recalling 17 such occasions, plus a 10 day absence because of a burn.

The tribunal heard how the then 25 year old arranged a house party on the last weekend of October 2021.  Mr Donnelly’s parting words to her as she left work on the Friday was, ‘don’t let me down on Monday’.

But on the Monday morning, Miss Thorley texted him to say: ‘I know you’re going to be mad but I can’t work, sorry. I was a mess yesterday and I’ve woke up this morning and was sick straight away.’

Mr Donnelly was ‘clearly frustrated’ and responded: ‘I’m not having this (….) I’m letting you go. I could do with the extra money.’ When Miss Thorley protested, he hit back: ‘After four years of phoning in sick on Mondays because you’d had a good weekend, I can do what I like trust me.

‘I’ve kept that shop open just to keep you in a wage. You have a house party and suddenly you’re ill. Don’t come in – you’re gone. I’m sick of it.’

Miss Thorley warned him she would ‘take him to a tribunal’ as he had failed to give her a verbal or written warning.

Miss Thorley told the Cardiff hearing she was suffering from suspected endometriosis, a disease affecting the lining of a woman’s womb.

Employment Judge Roseanne Russell determined that Miss Thorley was sick with a ‘heavy period’ at the time she was sacked. She said: ‘I considered that menorrhagia (heavy periods) is a symptom of suspected endometriosis.

“Overall,” said Judge Russell, “I concluded that Miss Thorley had a physical impairment of menorrhagia at the material time.’

Upholding her claim of unfair dismissal, Judge Russell said: ‘(Mr) Donnelly did not act reasonably in all the circumstances in treating (Miss Thorley’s) poor attendance as a sufficient reason to dismiss.

‘(She) never received any formal warnings about her attendance. She was not invited to a meeting to discuss her non-attendance.  ‘She was not given an opportunity to explain herself before being dismissed.. There was no fair process followed.’ Miss Thorley was awarded £3,453 in compensation.

The Graham Agency, keeping you informed.

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