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Whistleblowing Solicitor Wins Compensation Fight

A whistleblowing solicitor who resigned after she was dressed down in front of colleagues and her performance inappropriately criticised has won the right to compensation after a tribunal ruled that she was constructively dismissed unfairly.

The woman had blown the whistle in respect of aspects of the financial management of the firm for which she worked and in respect of an inappropriate joke about Arab Muslims which had been internally emailed by a member of the management team.

After she raised her concerns, her performance was unfairly criticised in front of her team and others. An Employment Tribunal (ET) found that the reason for that was that she had made the protected disclosures. She later handed in her notice in a resignation letter which contained a number of complaints about her treatment.

The ET found that the disclosures were not the principal reason for her dismissal. However, in upholding her claim, it went on to rule that her overall treatment had led to a breakdown of her relationship of trust and confidence with her employers. The fact that the firm did not have up-to-date whistleblowing procedures in place also amounted to a fundamental breach of contract.

The firm challenged the ET’s decision before the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the basis that it was insufficiently reasoned and displayed errors of law. It was submitted that the woman would have resigned in any event and that the breaches of contract found by the ET were not serious. However, in dismissing the appeal, the EAT found that the ET was entitled to reach the conclusions it did on the evidence.