Employee fired by text awarded £15,000 at tribunal hearing
An employee who was fired by text message after querying his rate of pay has been awarded £15,000 at an employment tribunal after the judge found he had been unfairly dismissed.
Christopher Hillis, a former chef de partie, at Glasgow restaurant Cail Bruich, was given less than minimum wage and was sent an abusive text sacking him a few days after he asked his owners about it The Herald reports.
Mr Hillis was ostensibly dismissed for calling in sick, with the restaurant’s owner Chris Charalambous saying he had made up “b******t sickness excuses”, calling them “f***ing b*****ks”.
Mr Hillis said he was devastated after he received the message, adding: “I felt it was more about the fact I had mentioned wages to him than being off sick.
“It was just a way to get rid of me.”
Mr Hillis questioned the owner about his wages on September 19 last year after being in the job for five months. The following day he called in sick.
But on September 22 he texted his boss to ask when he was to come to work, to which Mr Charalambous replied: “Your (sic) not. You must think im a f***y.”
He added: “You’ve left me & the team in the sh*t twice now on a Saturday with your b******t sickness excuses.
“You were totally fine on Friday night & even asked Jake out for a drink, then to miraculously develop a sickness bug in a few hours is f***ing b*****ks.
“We don’t want you back.”
Finding Mr Hillis had been unfairly dismissed, employment judge Lucy Wiseman awarded him £15,157 for breach of contract, unfair dismissal, holiday pay and national minimum wage regulations claims.
The tribunal heard Mr Hillis was paid about £300 a week for between 60 and 65 hours’ work and was not allowed breaks because the kitchen was too busy.
The action went undefended by C & P Kitchens, which trades as Cail Bruich.
However the company denied Mr Hillis had raised the problem in a written reponse.
Ms Wiseman, however, said that she “preferred the claimant’s version of events”.
She added: “I decided the claimant raised the issue of pay and hours with a view to enforcing or securing benefit in respect of the National Minimum Wage.
“I further decided the respondent dismissed the claimant for that reason.”
The former chef’s solicitors McGrade & Co said the company is now being dissolved but that the restaurant is still trading.
Alison Peat from the firm said: “The tribunal accepted Mr Hillis was paid less than the national minimum wage and that as a result of raising his concerns over non-payment of the national minimum wage, he was unfairly dismissed.
“The underpayment was substantial. The tribunal found that Mr Hillis’ was paid £134 per week less than he should have received.
“While we are very pleased that the tribunal accepted Mr Hillis’ version of events and awarded him substantial compensation, it is extremely disappointing that it will be very difficult for him to recover the sums awarded as the company which employed Mr Hillis has ceased trading, albeit the restaurant continues to trade.”
Cail Bruich’s owners declined to comment while Mr Hillis said he was “gutted” at the turn of events.