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Cafe employee fired over lack of 🙂 (smiley emoji) in 'unfriendly,' 'emotionless' texts to boss

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 14, 2022 1:45 pm

When messaging higher-ups at work, one is expected to compose messages in a formal tone. But a hospitality employee in Australia got fired for not using smileys while texting her boss.

According to local news website news.com.au, Kristen Gordon was working as a full-time contractual supervisor at Sens Catering Group, which operates two coffee shops in Gold Coast and Brisbane. Gordon was in charge of staff rostering and timesheets for about 14 months.

The employee raised concerns with her manager Phoebe Wang last March about hiring more workers, as her staff were being sent to their other cafe's branch on weekends.

Brisbane Times reported that Gordon also told Wang that prior to her being manager, they typically operate as a five-man team to handle the cafe's "weekend rush." Wang previously insisted on having only four workers during weekends.

Wang got triggered with Gordon's response, claiming she was being “unfriendly" as her messages have "no emotions." Gordon “didn’t add any smiley faces," a colleague who was with Wang said.

The colleague in question also said Wang wanted Gordon fired immediately. "Hire another supervisor, I don’t care about the cost," the colleague recalled, as Brisbane Times reported.

According to news.com.au, Wang also allegedly smashed her phone on the counter and jumped up and down.

Gordon was dismissed the very next day, with the company saying "the business is getting rid of any staff that didn’t agree with the owners."

The dismissal was difficult for Gordon, especially since she was going through an in-vitro fertilization procedure at the time following a miscarriage.

Gordon brought the matter to the government's Fair Work Commission (FWC), and ruled early this week that she was unfairly dismissed.

“The evidence supports a conclusion that [Gordon] was merely trying to express a view as to what would be in the best interests of the business in regard to staffing across the two venues,” Brisbane Times quoted FWC Commissioner Chris Simpson as saying. “There is nothing else to support a conclusion that her actions constituted a valid reason for dismissal."

Simpson also pointed out that Wang was "aware" of Gordon's IVF procedure, and her termination had a "significant financial impact" on that.

The FWC demanded Sens Catering Group to pay Gordon $5,357 (about P300,000) in compensation, plus 9.5% superannuation on that amount.