Whistle blower acting in 'public interest' was unfairly dismissed
A whistleblower who was sacked after revealing what he regarded as unfair practices by his employers has won his claim of unfair dismissal.
The Employment Tribunal held that the disclosure was in the public interest.
The case involved a manager who worked at a branch of a large estate agency chain. He told his area manager that he had come across information that showed that the agency was manipulating profit and loss accounts. He claimed this affected both his earnings and the earnings of 100 other senior managers.
He later made similar allegations to the agency’s Director of Human Resources.
The manager was later sacked on the grounds that he had made the disclosures.
The Employment Tribunal held that he had been unfairly dismissed. It accepted that he could be said to have breached his legal obligation to his employers. However, he would have a defence if the disclosures were in the public interest.
The manager had believed that the disclosures were in the interest of the 100 other managers. This was a big enough group to constitute a matter of ‘public interest’ as opposed to something only of importance to the manager himself.
The agency appealed on the grounds that 100 senior managers was not a large enough group to invoke a public interest defence.
However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the decision. It held that the managers represented a section of the public who would be affected by the manipulation of the accounts and so the public interest test was therefore satisfied.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.