Sens Coffee Co: Inside Story of How a Worker Was Fired For “She Didn’t Text With Smiley Emojis”
The worker, who was reportedly fired for neglecting to include an emoji in a text message to her boss, has let go of her former employer in rather tongue-in-cheek style.
Kristen Gordon told Daily Mail Australia the only comment she wanted to make about her ordeal of being fired from the Gold Coast cafe where she works was an eye roll emoji.
Ms Gordon won a Fair Work Commission case against Sens Catering Group, a business that operates two gold coast cafes and one in Brisbane City – after being fired on March 13 this year.
The FWC heard the owner’s partner, Phoebe Wang, order a manager to sack Ms Gordon, who was an occasional supervisor at the Southport cafe, after a row over rostering.
A colleague told the hearing that Ms Wang, partner of owner Jerry Chen, was outraged by text messages from Ms Gordon and believed they were “unfriendly” because the worker didn’t use smiley face emojis.
Ms Gordon (pictured) said her response to her ordeal with her former employer was an “eye-rolling emoji”.
At a Fair Work Commission hearing, Phoebe Wang (pictured) overheard Ms Gordon being fired after failing to include a smiley face emoji in a message
Although Ms Gordon was a casual worker, she worked full-time and was responsible for workforce planning, the FWC heard.
A colleague told the commission that Ms. Wang, who began managing Mr. Chen’s business in the Gold Coast in December while he was abroad, became angry after receiving a message from Ms. Gordon about a staffing issue.
Ms. Gordon told the hearing that Ms. Wang had requested that employees from Sens Café be sent to her other shop, Goya Café, leaving the former staff understaffed.
She stated that she disagreed with this business move, which is a common occurrence, and raised it in a text exchange with Ms. Wang.
After Ms. Wang received the messages, she allegedly smashed her phone on the counter, jumped up and down, and yelled at a manager, “Fire her right now!”.
The colleague said she asked to watch the news to understand why Ms. Wang was so angry, thinking they were normal.
Ms Gordon (pictured in the cafe) was employed as a temp but worked full-time, with her role including assisting with staff planning
The commission overheard Ms Wang saying Ms Gordon had argued with her, and since there were no emojis in the messages, it suggested her tone was rude.
Although the colleague explained that this is how Ms. Gordon writes texts, Ms. Wang allegedly cooked and kept repeating that she needed to be fired.
Ms Gordon told the FWC that she had been told Ms Wang had repeatedly stated she “didn’t add smileys! There are no emotions!’
The former boss said she was unaware her “completely sane text messages were generating so much excitement.”
The colleague told the FWC Ms Wang’s outburst was a “very aggressive display and very uncomfortable”.
Later that afternoon, the colleague said Ms. Wang offered her Ms. Gordon’s job and said, “Are you worried about hurting her feelings?
The FWC heard Ms Gordon was an occasional supervisor at the company’s Southport cafe (pictured) for 18 months
“Don’t worry, we’ve wanted to get rid of Kristen for a long time.”
The next afternoon, after she had worked a full shift, a manager told Ms Gordon that they were being forced to fire her.
She submitted her case to the FWC the next day.
But Mr Chen denies the emoji allegations, telling Daily Mail Australia the sacking was in response to the rostering argument.
“Common sense tells you it’s a joke,” Mr Chen said in response to claims Ms Gordon was fired for not using emojis.
Mr Chen said he and Ms Wang were very upset about the saga but “accept the decision FWC made”.
Fair Works Commissioner Chris Simpson noted that the couple did not attend the hearing on July 1 after “indicated that they did not wish to attend”.
In submitting his findings, Mr Simpson said: “Based on the evidence before me, I am satisfied that Ms Gordon was dismissed and that the dismissal was harsh, unfair or unreasonable and compensation should be ordered.”
However, Mr Chen said the couple could not attend the FWC hearing because he was overseas and Ms Wang was in Perth to fulfill work obligations.
Kristen Gordon (pictured) won a wrongful dismissal case after being fired from the Sens Catering group in March this year
“Phoebe and I didn’t attend the hearing because we like to stay out of trouble,” he said. “That’s why we give Kristen space to write her own story with fair work.
Mr Chen, who has been stuck in China for the past six months due to Covid-related flight cancellations, said he was dying to return to Australia to help Ms Wang, who was handling business after his former general manager was sacked.
He said he could deal with his business being affected but worried that Ms. Wang would be attacked when she sacrificed her weekends to help him.
Such an emoji is apparently sorely missing from the SMS, the commission heard
“We just want a peaceful life. I shouldn’t leave her alone with all these problems,’ he said.
“I am responsible for all consequences. I don’t want to fight back, I just hope Phoebe stays peaceful.
“It’s very unfair to small business owners, we work hard but employees can always call fair work for a peanut. And they always win.”
Mr Simpson noted that Ms Gordon was fired on March 13, although Ms Wang tried to make it appear as if she had given the employee an opportunity to elaborate on the reason for the dismissal.
In material filed before the hearing, Sens Catering Group Pty Ltd alleged that Ms Gordon was offered two weeks’ paid leave “in good faith” during an interview a week after her dismissal, and that Ms Gordon agreed to return to work thereafter.
No one representing the group of companies attended the hearing of the instructions and no other documents were filed on their behalf.
“The Respondent was probably aware that the applicant was challenging her dismissal since the wrongful dismissal request was made on March 14,” Commissioner Simpson said.
“I am inclined to believe that Ms. Wang’s offer of the applicant as a casual worker and a period of ‘paid leave’ and the potential offer of other future employment at another company at the end of that period of ‘vacation’ were more attempts to dispute about the earlier dismissal than either an offer to overturn the termination or an attempt to maintain an allegedly ongoing casual work relationship.”
Sens Catering Group Pty Ltd was ordered to pay Ms Gordon $5,357.80 plus 9.5 per cent retirement benefit on that amount, which was paid into her nominated fund.
Sens Catering Group Pty Ltd was ordered to pay Ms Gordon $5,357.80 plus 9.5 percent pension