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Barber who fired staff member from Cardiff SU’s barbershop told to pay her £3,000

She claimed to have missed shifts due to pelvic pain and alleged endometriosis


A barber who owned Acute Barbers in Cardiff Uni’s Students’ Union has been ordered to pay a former staff member over £3,000 due to  firing her after she phoned in sick on a number of Mondays.

Celine Thorley, 25, was fired by Christian Donnelly, 39, from Acute Barbers in Cardiff University’s Students’ Union after she established a “pattern” of missing work after weekends.

WalesOnline reported how a judge determined that Cardiff resident Celine Thorley was actually ill with a heavy period and that her boss had not followed a “fair process”. Mr Donnelly was then ordered to pay Ms Thorley over £3,000 in restitution costs following the judgement.

The owner of the barber shop had cautioned Ms Thorley about turning up on Monday during her last shift before the weekend.  However, on Monday, she texted in sick, claiming that her stomach was hurting her. This is when Mr Donnelly told her he was firing her after “years of phoning in sick on Mondays”.

The message said: “Hey Chris, I know you’re going to be mad at me but I can’t make it to work sorry I really didn’t think I was going to be this bad I’m not well at all…I’m soo sorry!”

Mr. Donnelly declared that he would be firing her because he was “not having this” after four years of her calling in sick on Mondays. She objected, to which he responded that he could do whatever he wanted, stating that he kept the shop open just to keep her in a wage. When Ms. Thorley said she would take him to court, he replied: “You’ve had all your warnings. Crack on with all that legal s***.”

He testified to the tribunal that she took more time off in her first year than all of her co-workers put together and that weekends nearly invariably came before sick days. She missed 17 Mondays and Tuesdays in addition to 10 days off due to burning herself, according to Mr. Donnelly.

The tribunal was informed that Ms. Thorley was in serious pain on the day she was terminated, and her mother-in-law took the day off of work to take care of her. The number of absences, according to Ms. Thorley, was not as severe as Mr. Donnelly had stated. She was unable to specify how frequently she need time off due to period problems, although she surmised that it might have been “every month or every other month”.

She also asserted that she had endometriosis, a condition that can result in unbearable pelvic and abdominal pain. She claimed to be on a waiting list to see a gynaecologist but had never obtained a formal diagnosis. The tribunal was informed that her medical records did not contain a referral letter.

Judge Roseanne Russell concluded that Ms. Thorley’s pain was a physical impairment and she cited the absence of official warnings from Mr. Donnelly as evidence to support a claim of unfair dismissal.

Judge Russell continued saying that a fair process had been completely disregarded and that the failure wasn’t an accident, but was planned. Christian Donnelly’s remark to the claimant to “crack on with all that legal s***” served as evidence of this, according to the judge.

After firing Ms. Thorley, Mr. Donnelly “pretty much immediately” shut down the store in the Students’ Union and said that since the outbreak, business at his other store has been difficult.

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