Even employers who feel that they have been unfairly criticised have no excuse for targeting whistleblowers for detrimental treatment. An Employment Tribunal (ET) powerfully made that point in the case of a senior care worker who raised welfare and safeguarding concerns affecting residents in a care home.
After making the disclosures, both to the care home’s owner and to public healthcare authorities, the woman was suspended. She resigned in the midst of a disciplinary process and launched ET proceedings.
Upholding her case, the ET found that she had made three protected disclosures in the reasonable belief that the information disclosed was substantially true. She had been subjected to various detriments – including her suspension – the imposition of which was materially influenced by her whistleblowing. In short, she was constructively dismissed because she blew the whistle.
The employer felt that the disclosures were tremendously unfair, but the ET had no hesitation in finding that it conducted itself in a manner calculated to damage or destroy the employment relationship of mutual trust and confidence and did so because she had the temerity to make protected disclosures. The employer thereby fundamentally and repeatedly breached her employment contract.
She did not receive the benefit of a proper investigation and the evidence indicated that the employer had no real interest in discussing her concerns or properly looking into them. The investigating and dismissing officers were one and the same and a disciplinary hearing had been conducted in an unprofessional manner that left her feeling humiliated. She was suspended without reasonable or proper cause.
The employer was ordered to pay her basic and compensatory awards in respect of her automatic and ordinary unfair dismissal, totalling £5,576. She was also awarded £16,875 for injury to her feelings.