A worker’s complaint to HR that he was being defamed by rumours that he had breached confidentiality was capable of amounting to a protected disclosure under the whistleblowing provisions of the Employment Rights Act.
Two company directors were personally liable for their part in dismissing an employee on whistleblowing grounds.
An employee did not make protected disclosures when she complained to her employer about bullying, harassment, inappropriate behaviour and lack of managerial support over a safeguarding issue.
Only the mind of the decision maker is relevant when determining an employer’s reasons for dismissing a whistleblower for the purpose of a claim for automatic unfair dismissal.
Where an employee’s employment has been terminated due to a protected disclosure a tribunal can award compensation for long-term loss of earnings or ‘stigma damages’ even if the employee didn’t actually advance such a claim.
To base the test of whether a whistleblowing disclosure is ‘in the public interest’ purely on the numbers affected would be ‘too mechanistic’ says the Court of Appeal. The question of whether a disclosure is in the public interest depends on the character of the interest served by it, rather than simply on the numbers of people sharing that interest.
Beatt v Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
It is irrelevant that the employer genuinely believes an employee’s disclosure is not protected. A disclosure will be protected if it meets the statutory conditions in the Employment Rights Act 1996 - and this is an objective test. If the employer dismisses the employee for making a disclosure that a tribunal later finds was protected, the dismissal will be automatically unfair.