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Posted by on in Employment Tribunal
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Chef Wins Unfair Dismissal Case Against Glasgow Restaurant

A chef who was dismissed from West End restaurant Cail Bruich has been awarded over £15,000 at an employment tribunal after citing unfair dismissal.

Christopher Hillis, who has worked as chef de partie at the Glasgow restaurant, was being paid less than the minimum wage, and when he asked the owners of the restaurant about the wages, he received an abusive text message dismissing him a few days later.

Unfair Dismissal

Mr Hillis had called in sick for a shift on Saturday and was dismissed for making up excuses to not work. However, he believes that he was dismissed as he had asked the owner why he had not been getting paid the minimum wage after joining the company in April of the same year. He was dismissed via a text message two days after he failed to show up for work due to illness.

However, Employment Judge Lucy Wiseman found that Mr Hillis had been unfairly dismissed and awarded him a total of £15,157. The judge heard that Mr Hillis normally worked between 60-65 hours per week yet only received around £300 per week. According to the employment tribunal, this equated to around £4 an hour with Mr Hillis being unable to take breaks due to the kitchen being “too busy”.

The amount awarded to Mr Hillis covered not only his unfair dismissal but also a breach of contract and claims under national minimum wage regulations and holiday pay.

Controversy Over Payment

C & P Kitchens Ltd, who were trading as Cail Bruich, did not defend the action but tried to deny Mr Hillis had raised the issue in a written response to the tribunal.

However the judge deemed that she "preferred the claimant's version of events", stating: "I decided the claimant raised the issue of pay and hours with a view to enforcing or securing benefit in respect of the National Minimum Wage.

"I further decided the respondent dismissed the claimant for that reason."

Despite the amount being awarded to the former employee, the company is in the process of being dissolved, meaning that Mr Hillis may not be able to claim the money. Despite this, the representation for Mr Hillis stated that the restaurant is still trading.

The representation for Mr Hillis said: "The tribunal accepted Mr Hillis was paid less than the national minimum wage and that as a result of raising his concerns over non-payment of the national minimum wage, he was unfairly dismissed.

"The underpayment was substantial. The tribunal found that Mr Hillis’ was paid £134 per week less than he should have received.

"While we are very pleased that the tribunal accepted Mr Hillis’ version of events and awarded him substantial compensation, it is extremely disappointing that it will be very difficult for him to recover the sums awarded as the company which employed Mr Hillis has ceased trading, albeit the restaurant continues to trade."
     
The owners of the restaurant declined to comment on the ruling, however, Mr Hillis said he was "gutted" that he had won his case but that he will be unlikely to claim any money from the company.

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