In a stern warning to every worker that breaching your employers’ confidence can have the gravest consequences, a recruitment consultant who leaked information to competitors ended up on the losing side of a full-blown High Court libel trial.
The man, in his 20s, was sacked by a recruitment firm after his illicit activities were discovered and, shortly afterwards, his boss began circulating emails about him to more than 100 of the firm’s clients. He launched defamation proceedings on the basis that the emails had unjustifiably blackened his reputation.
The emails accused him of, amongst other things, violating his employment contract by regularly passing confidential information about the firm’s business to trade rivals. They stated that he had been rightly sacked for gross misconduct and some of them suggested that his behaviour was so serious that there were reasonable grounds to suspect him of a criminal offence.
In dismissing the man’s damages claim, the Court found that the accusations made in the emails were substantially true. He had imparted private information about the firm to outsiders, including his girlfriend who worked for a competitor. He had been justifiably dismissed on the basis of documentary evidence of disloyalty and the firm had reasonable grounds to suspect him of fraud.