Salesman fired for texting in sick

Store employee allowed to text in sick after brother died but fired for doing the same thing a few days later

A Scottish store unfairly dismissed an employee who called in sick with text messages after a death in the family, according to an employment tribunal.

Mark Morrison was a sales adviser for Tile It All, a tiles shop in Edinburgh, Scotland. When his brother died in December 2006, he sent a text message to his manager to tell him what happened and he wouldn’t be able to come in to work. He sent another text message later saying he would be off sick until after the funeral.

Morrison said his manager then called him and told him to bring a doctor’s certificate when he returned to work, though the manager denied this. When he did return and handed in the note, nothing was said to him.

Four days later, Morrison was still feeling depressed and stayed home from work for five consecutive days. He sent a text message each day saying he was depressed and not coming to work.

The store called Morrison in to a disciplinary hearing and then fired him for violating company policy, which stipulated employees must notify the store of illness by telephone or sending in doctor's notes.

The tribunal found dismissing Morrison for texting in sick was “petty,” and the store didn’t notify Morrison he had breached the policy after using text messages the first time. The manager also was aware of the reason for Morrison’s depression and the situation could have been remedied easily.

Because of the store’s inconsistency in applying its policy, the tribunal ruled Morrison was unfairly dismissed and awarded £6,977, or approximately $14,000 Cdn.

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