Employee Sues Over 'U R Fired' Text Message

May 22, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A traffic controller in Sydney, Australia has sued his former employer for unfair dismissal after he was notified by a company director via mobile phone text message.

Aside from the unusual way the termination was delivered, the former employee’s attorney said, “there was no justification” for his dismissal. “The lack of procedural fairness culminated in the undignified process of being terminated via an SMS (short message service) message,” attorney Tom Earls told the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission, according to an Associated Press report.

“Its (sic) official, you no longer work for JNI Traffic Control and u (sic) have forfided (sic) any arrangements made,” read the message sent by a JNI Traffic Control director to John Eid in February, Earls told the court.

However, the company alleges it was Eid who had resigned. Eid “stated he would not work for JNI ever again and swore in colorful language, at length,” according to JNI’s lawyer. “The SMS message that was sent the next day was an acceptance of a resignation.”

The commissioner overseeing the case, Elizabeth Bishop, warned about the dangers of using modern technology in the workplace, saying the text message should not have been sent regardless of whether Eid had resigned or was fired. E-mails, text messages and answering machines were inappropriate for important official business communication, she said. “What happened to the old-fashioned letter or talking to someone in person?” she asked.

She then ordered the two parties to attempt reconciliation in a private session.