Employment law expert Ian Jones looks at a case that should sound an alert for companies looking to dismiss staff for spurious reasons, especially in the context of whistleblowing. This article was first published in Personnel Today on 9 December.
In a whistleblowing case which proceeded through all four tiers of our civil justice system, the Supreme Court has considered whether, in a claim for automatic unfair dismissal, a manager’s disguised reason for dismissal could be considered by the employment tribunal rather than the reason of the appointed decision-maker, who was unaware of the background.
In determining this, the court concluded that, given the particular facts, the employer could be held liable for automatic unfair dismissal following the employee’s previous protected disclosures (whistleblowing), despite the fact that the dismissing manager was unaware of those disclosures.
The case is significant because there have been some conflicting comments in previous Court of Appeal decisions about whether it is only the facts known to the decision-maker that are relevant.
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