Woman wins case against university after being sacked for sending too many texts at work

A STUDENTS' body at Edinburgh University has lost a jobs claim against it after sacking a woman accused of sending too many phone texts while she was at work.

Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) has lost an employment tribunal for unfairly dismissing a woman for texting too much and faces another separate unfair dismissal claim next year.

Tracy Scott, 42, was a premises manager at EUSA for more than three years before being axed from her job for allegedly sending too many personal texts during working hours.

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Ms Scott took her former employer to the employment tribunal in Edinburgh in November where she claimed that she had not been treated fairly.

The mum of two has since found out that she won her case unanimously and a hearing is to be fixed to determine a remedy.

A source, who said he used to work at EUSA two years ago, commented: "She (Tracy) is delighted. She didn't want her job back it was just about the lies they told about her."

Another source said: "I think that the compensation has still got to get agreed but the result was that she was unfairly dismissed.

"I know of other friends who have been put through the mill."

It was claimed that Ms Scott committed gross misconduct for using her mobile phone to send private texts during working hours and for failing to stop texting when her line manager told her to.

But during the two-day employment tribunal Ms Scott claimed she was never given clear instructions by her line manager, Alan Blackwood, to stop using her phone.

Ms Scott was also going through a serious health scare when she was forced to attend a disciplinary hearing over the allegations.

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After an investigation and a disciplinary hearing, Sam Mason, director of trading and estates at EUSA, made the decision to dismiss Ms Scott.

In the final submissions of the case in November, Ms Scott's friend Lindsey Chisholm read on her behalf: "I believe that I have shown that in a time that I needed support from EUSA I was in fact let down by them.

"I have always maintained it was not discussed as Alan Blackwood said it was."

In response, Cathy Donald, representing EUSA, said: "The claimant acknowledges that she had a conversation with Alan Blackwood."

"The claimant's position is that she misunderstood the nature of this instruction but it is the respondent's position that she did not misunderstand this instruction but just ignored it and she continued to send text messages at the same level as before."

In the Employment Tribunal Judgment, Employment Judge Mary Kearns says: "The unanimous judgment of the Employment Tribunal is that the claimant was unfairly dismissed by the respondent and a hearing will be fixed to determine remedy."

Regarding the first charge, Judge Kearns went on to say that the fact Ms Scott had admitted that she had sent a large volume of texts during working hours "constituted reasonable grounds for believing that she had done so."

But she added that the main issue was whether it had been made clear to Ms Scott that although she had been previously permitted to use her phone for personal use during working hours, it was now to be treated as serious misconduct which could result in dismissal.

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She said: "With regard to the second head of misconduct (failing to fulfil a reasonable management request) we accepted that Mr Mason believed the claimant guilty of this but we did not consider he had reasonable grounds for that belief."

The Employment Tribunal Service has also confirmed that the Students' Association faces another two day hearing in February involving another claim for unfair dismissal from a different individual.

No further details were available.

A spokeswoman for EUSA said: "We don't make any comments about employment issues."