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Text message mistake led to unfair dismissal

18 July 2011 #Employment

In the case of Pawlicka v Pier Trading Company Ltd the Employment Tribunal has upheld the unfair dismissal claim of an employee who was "innocently" sent a text message by her manager detailing her exit from the company.

The Claimant was a manager at the Respondent`s cafe in Kensington Gardens. She was sent a text message by her line manager Ms Parker, which was intended for the owner of the cafe, Mr Whelan. The text stated that a potential replacement for the Claimant was being interviewed and asked when it was expected the Claimant would be leaving.

The Claimant was confused by the message as she was not aware that she was leaving and went to speak to Ms Parker. Ms Parker allegedly told her that the two of them could not work together and that she and Mr Whelan thought it would be better to settle her contract.

The Claimant concluded that she had been dismissed at the meeting. The Respondent alleged that there had been no dismissal, that the text message mistake was "perfectly innocent" and that the meeting had merely been a discussion about ongoing issues with the working relationship between the Claimant and Ms Parker.

A further meeting took place between the Claimant and the Company Secretary, Mr Webb. At the meeting settlement options were discussed and the Claimant was paid her wages for October. The Respondent argued that at the meeting Mr Webb had tried to persuade the Claimant not to leave, but the Tribunal preferred the evidence of the Claimant.

The Tribunal found that that any reasonable employee would have reached the conclusion that he or she had been dismissed under the circumstances. As the Respondent had not established a fair reason for dismissal the Tribunal held that the Claimant`s dismissal was unfair and awarded her almost £11,000 in compensation.
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