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Left with the birthday blues and facing the sack

Published 31 July 2017

There is a popular saying that life begins at 40…but for office worker Julie it marked the start of a work-related nightmare.

An online message from Julie’s son wishing her happy birthday led to her facing disciplinary action, and the threat of dismissal.

Our representatives at Castle Associates are used to dealing with employers who do a lot worse than play party pooper, but Julie’s case did present an unusual challenge.

Julie planned to mark her 40th birthday, which was on a Friday, with a celebration at home with family. Just two days before her birthday Julie attended a leaving do for a colleague.

Julie suffered stomach pains and diarrhoea the next day and called in sick to the Suffolk-based office where she worked. She was diagnosed with food poisoning and off work for one week.

One her return to work Julie was summoned to the manager’s office and informed she was being suspended for faking her illness.

Two weeks later Julie contacted Castle Associates after she was invited to a disciplinary hearing and informed that if the allegation was proven it could lead to her dismissal

The disciplinary chair produced a photo taken from her eldest son’s Instagram page that showed Julie, her husband and four sons sat in a restaurant and raising a glass to the camera. The message with the photo said: “Celebrating Mum’s 40th birthday today. Love you mum.”

The company insisted the picture was taken on the day of Julie’s 40th birthday and it proved she was lying about her illness.

Our representative was able to use the original post of the holiday snap to show it had been taken months earlier while the family were on holiday in Bulgaria. He explained her son posted it because it captured the family at a happy time and he thought it was appropriate to mark a special occasion.

Our representative also highlighted Julie’s illness was confirmed by her GP and other messages posted on social media from family and friends with birthday wishes and wishing Julie a speedy recovery.

Julie had a late celebration when she received a letter clearing her of any wrongdoing exactly one month after her 40th birthday.

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