Dow’s bar boss slammed in bullying and inappropriate texts row

A CITY centre bar manager has been accused of sending inappropriate texts about employees’ skirts, underpayments and forcing staff to work when sick.

Staff walked out of Dow’s Bar, on Dundas Street, forcing it to be locked up on Hogmanay.

Texts show general manager Paul McLaughlin telling staff members to “get the (very) short skirt looked out” and that the dress code for a job interview was “high heels and shorts now princess”.

Other messages show Mr McLaughlin discussing employee’s “knickers”.

Since these claims first surfaced online, pressure group Better than Zero have taken up the case to put pressure on the 42-year-old boss, who owns the business which has run for 10 years.

Unite Hospitality will be representing the upset workers industrially and legally.

A spokesman for the Better than Zero campaign said: “In the three years since we started the campaign, we have heard some awful stories from workplaces across Scotland but we have never came across such a catalogue of abuse and mistreatment of staff from one employer.

“From sexual harassment to forcing staff to come in when sick, Paul Gerrard McLaughlin has bullied his staff so badly that they have been forced to walk out with no wages.”

On December 30, staff at Dow’s were due to be paid their wages for the month, but were instead given a “sub” which was to tide them over until they were paid fully.

After still not being paid by Hogmanay, supervisor Kayti Miller, 35, decided to lock the pub and head home.

This comes after months of illegal deductions from wages due to “till shortages” and being warned that calling in sick during December was not an option.

Kayti said: “This has been going on for the whole five months that I have worked there.

“There is no reason for him not to pay in full as the pub made a fortune in December.

“We have all worked through breaks with a skeleton staff as minimum wage workers with families to feed, the way he is treating us is disgusting.”

After taking the decision to close the bar on December 31, Mr McLaughlin visited her home but found only Kayti’s mother with three young children.

The Dow’s supervisor added: “He (Paul McLaughlin) turned up at my house on Hogmanay after he found out what had happened.

“I was out picking up a takeaway when he was there, but my Mum was in and she wouldn’t let him in. He was banging on the door and wouldn’t stop.

“I have been intimidated before but I won’t back down over this.”

As a minimum wage employer, Mr McLaughlin’s deductions to wages over till shortages pushes hourly rates below minimum wage for his workers.

Unite Hospitality organiser Bryan Simpson said: “Our members are perfectly within their rights to walk out of the job in response to what we believe is a clear breach of contract on the part of the employer.

“Following their action, the owner Paul Gerrard McLaughlin proceeded to harass one of the members of staff at her home late at night on New Year’s Eve, banging on her door trespassing on her and her neighbours property.

“We will be working with our solicitors to support staff legally and to ensure that all members are paid what they are due.”

Workers at Dow’s have also brought forward evidence to show the business owner asked them to come into work whilst ill on multiple occasions, saying that a “no show was not acceptable”.

Twenty-six-year-old bartender Kathryn McCallum developed pleurisy throughout November and December, leading to her going to hospital.

After giving Mr McLaughlin six hours of notice that she would be unable to attend her shift because of this, she was told to “come in and collect glasses”.

She said: “We were told that there was to be no time off in December, no holidays either.

“Doctors told me that I had pleurisy which caused me to sprain my ribs, and that I was to take time off of work.

“When I told him this he said that I had to come in and wash glasses and collect them at least as it was too busy and there was nobody to cover.”

“Another time when I missed one hour of work to take my daughter to the hospital I was instead given a double shift the next day.”

Another member of staff, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he is owed more than £600 of holiday pay that Mr McLaughlin had not made him aware of.

The worker has been working at Dow’s for nine months and has been given no time off until now.

Stephen Siegerson, who has worked at Dow’s for two years, said: “This has been the last straw for me as money is his first priority, not the safety of his staff.

“Paul has been doing this for years and I have simply had enough.”

Meanwhile, Mr McLaughlin responded to criticism by saying that reports claiming staff have not been paid were “misinformation” and a “malicious lie”.

A legal representative added the businessman would be providing no further comment.

While Dow’s business side is run by Mr McLaughlin, Belhaven Breweries own the bar.

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