Sacked via WhatsApp

An employment tribunal has ruled that a beautician practice manager’s dismissal from her position was ‘unfair’ as a ‘sufficient investigation’ was not carried out fairly. The employee had mocked a junior staff member at a drunken Christmas party, exclaiming it was a ‘joke’. The comments made by the manager made the junior member of staff feel ‘humiliated’.

Following the incident at the Christmas party, a negative environment continued at the clinic and the owners discovered that the claimant had been looking for a new job using her work computer. She was called to a meeting by her employer, which she thought was informal, but was told that it was a disciplinary once in the meeting, and informed that there would be a review a month later.

The tribunal heard that her behaviour at the Christmas party was among the many issues raised at the meeting. The following day the employee was described to have caused ‘chaos’ at the clinic, told to leave and subsequently dismissed via WhatsApp.

However, the employment Judge stated “I am satisfied that the employer had a genuine and reasonable belief in a personality clash between the employee and other members of staff. However, she was entitled to be given the opportunity to have her say on those issues, in the context of knowing that the clinic was unhappy with her and considering dismissing her for that reason.’’

It was concluded that at no time did the employee know that the clinic was considering dismissing her and that the employer did not carry out a sufficient investigation; and the process it carried out was not fair. The employee was awarded £12,431.

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