A barber has been fined £3,000 after sacking a woman for ‘calling in sick on Mondays’, with an employment judge ruling that the employee had been genuinely ill.
Christian Donnelly, who owned Acute Barbers in the students’ union at Cardiff University, believed Celine Thorley had been feigning genuine illness after partying at the weekend, having warned her as she finished a shift one Friday: “Don’t let me down on Monday.”
When Monday came, Thorley texted him to say she could not get out of bed because her stomach was ‘killing’ her, but Donnelly then said he would be sacking her after ‘four years of phoning in sick on Mondays because you’d had a good weekend’.
An employment judge has now ordered Donnelly to pay Thorley a total of £3,453, having ruled she was sincerely ill with a heavy period.
The tribunal heard that Thorley, 25, had hosted a Halloween party on the last weekend of October 2021.
The Monday after, she texted her boss: “Hey Chris I know you’re going to be mad at me but I can’t make it to work sorry I really didn’t think I was going to be this bad I’m not well at all I was a mess yesterday and I’ve woke up this morning and was sick straight away.
Donnell, 39, hit back to say he would be letting her go, as he was ‘not having this’.
“Don’t come in and you’re gone,” he told her.
When Thorley – who started working at the shop in 2018 with a salary of about £16,000 – said she would take him to a tribunal, he replied: “You’ve had all your warnings. Crack on with all that legal s***.”
Judge Roseanne Russell found that Thorley had a ‘physical impairment’ from menorrhagia (heavy periods).
She said she was on a waiting list to be seen by a gynaecologist, but the tribunal heard there was no referral letter in her medical records.
It also heard that Thorley’s mother-in-law took the day off on the day she was fired to look after her, as she was in ‘severe pain’.
Upholding a claim of unfair dismissal, Russell said Donnelly had not given his employee formal warnings.
He claimed there was a ‘pattern’ of Thorley calling in sick Mondays, but accepted he should have gone through the correct process of dismissal, including written warnings.
Donnelly told the outlet he felt ‘no bitterness’ towards Thorley, saying the business had been struggling so much during the pandemic that he worked as a labourer so he could keep the student union shop going.
“I kept it open so she would be in a wage,” he added.