Modestie director, Sophia Sarkis sent a text to staff member Sedina Sokolovic saying “That shows me you not taking me serious or the work. Which hurts me enough and you can pick up your pay tomorrow and drop the key. You don’t need to call me and I don’t see that we can work together.”
Ms Sokolovic, who had worked at the store in Sydney for two years, was awarded AUS$9992 after Fair Work Australia ruled her text-message sacking was “harsh, unjust and unreasonable.”
Ms Sokolovic, said she could not believe she had been sacked by text two days after she had swapped shifts. She was also upset she had not had a chance to respond. “I was just stunned. What happened wasn’t right,” she told The Age newspaper.
Fair Work Australia Commissioner, Ian Cambridge was also critical of the way the sacking occurred, saying he was inclined to agree with the comments of Ms Sokolovic’s lawyer, Adrian Barwick, that it was a “pretty appalling” way to dismiss someone. Mr Cambridge said it suggested a “lack of courage” to fire an employee by text.
“Consequently, if dismissal is implemented by any means other than face-to-face communication, both the legal and ethical basis for the decision to dismiss is likely to face strong and successful challenge,” he said.
The reasons given in the text message did not include any “serious misconduct” that would justify an instant dismissal, and none were provided later at the Fair Work Australia hearing, the tribunal found.
Firing Ms Sokolovic by text also denied her a chance to respond or explain the circumstances that had led to her sacking.
Mr Cambridge said claims by Modestie that Ms Sokolovic had been fired after complaints by customers were “unspecified, unsubstantiated allegations” that were used “belatedly” to try to bolster an “ill-considered and hasty decision”.
HR Development is unsure why Modestie, with such a flimsy case, did not settle out of court. Sacking via text message is certainly not best management practice, but I guess it must have felt very satisfying for Sophia Sarkis at the time. HR Development thinks there are cheaper ways to remove unwanted employees.