31 October 2013
TV dressmaker sued over 'wrongful dismissal'
Celebrity dressmaker Thelma Madine is being taken to court by former employee Leanne Phillips over a wrongful dismissal claim.
Ms Madine paid Ms Phillips £400 a week to design dresses for her Nico Bridal Company shop in Liverpool city centre. The company is perhaps best known for its appearance on hit Channel 4 TV show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
Nico Bridal Company is popular among the north-west's large traveller community and Ms Madine credited 31-year-old Ms Phillips with "taking her businesses to another level" before she was fired, according to the Daily Mail.
But this relationship fell apart and Ms Phillips was fired by the company's director because she was concerned about the atmosphere in the shop. Television footage from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding has shown the duo to have a fractious relationship, although this is normally resolved relatively quickly.
However, it appears the partnership between Ms Phillips and 61-year-old Ms Madine has now completely broken down and the 31-year-old seamstress has denied any wrongdoing that could have led to her dismissal.
Ms Phillips commented: "It [the firing] came at completely the wrong time, as I was recently engaged and planning my own wedding.
"I had never been out of work since leaving school and found unbearable the thought of signing on benefits a few weeks before Christmas. I can't wait until the tribunal is over and I can put that part of my life behind me."
Ms Phillips has now set up a competing traveller-focused design and dressmaking company, named Leanne Alexandra and the 31-year-old hopes to sway previous Nico customers with her hard work ethic.
When asked for comment before the upcoming employment trial, Ms Madine refused to speak to the press, but she will have to prove to judges that Ms Phillips had regularly or seriously breached parts of her contract.
It is unclear what, if any, compensatory payment the 31-year-old is aiming to receive in redress for the alleged unfair dismissal.
By Francesca Witney