Look, the last line sums it up correctly but this whole story stinks.  I would hope that it would never occur to a manager tools manager to handle things this way - but in the comments to this article it is amazing how many people support the manager's technique.


Shop fined $10,000 for firing worker in 'cowardly' text

Ben Schneiders

May 31, 2011

Sedina Sokolovic was unfairly sacked by her employer by text message.

A TEXT message costs about 25 cents — but for retailer Modestie Boutique it cost it nearly $10,000.

In what was described as a "pretty appalling" way to fire someone, Sedina Sokolovic was sacked by text message after her boss complained she had swapped shifts without permission and was late for work.

"That shows me you not taking me serious or the work," Modestie director Sophia Sarkis texted. "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 Liverpool in Sydney for two years, was awarded $9992 after Fair Work Australia ruled her text-message sacking — delivered on Boxing Day last year — was harsh, unjust and unreasonable.

Ms Sokolovic, also an actor, yesterday told The Age she could not believe she had been sacked by text two days after she had swapped shifts.

She was upset she had not had a chance to respond. "I was just stunned. What happened wasn't right," she said.

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 Ms Sarkis had been "motivated by a consuming desire to find blame" after, in an unrelated incident, about $5000 worth of clothing had been stolen on the watch of the employee who had swapped shifts with Ms Sokolovic.

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".

University of Adelaide law professor Andrew Stewart said he could not recall any case where firing by text had reached the tribunal but it was likely to have been something that some casual staff might have experienced.

"We should be careful not to conclude it would be unfair [dismissal] merely because a person is sacked by text. But it's certainly not a practice that would be recommended from the standpoint of good management."