2014.04.25: Claims of ‘whistleblowing’ with respect to detriments suffered as a result of making a Protected Disclosure can be notoriously complicated.
Making a Protected Disclosure includes telling the employer that that that they have failed to comply with a legal obligation, that there has been a miscarriage of justice, or that health and safety or the environment have been put at risk. Workers must show they reasonably believe that the disclosure was in the Public Interest. Disclosures no longer have to be made
in good faith as substantially true, but if not Tribunals can reduce awards by up to 25%.
The EAT case of Panayiotou v Kernaghan reported this week is an example of how difficult such claims can be to win.
Mr Panayiotou, a police officer, made protected disclosures relating to other officers’ treatment of victims. An investigation largely upheld his concerns and he continued to campaign on the victims behalf. In the end, he was dismissed, on the basis that he had an incompatible outside business interest because of that campaign.
The tribunal were critical of Mr Panayiotou’s treatment. They concluded that the manner of his dismissal was a ‘device’, intended to avoid any outside challenge. You may therefore think that he would win his whistleblowing claim. However he lost.
The Tribunal found that Mr Panayiotou’s disclosures were not the reason for his dismissal. Instead his dismissal was caused by his campaign to help the victims and his employer’s escalating frustration. These events were related to, but distinct from, the disclosures themselves.
Mr Panayiotou therefore lost his whistleblowing claim but appealed. Unluckily for him though, the EAT upheld the employment tribunal’s reasoning and conclusion.
See our whistleblowing item from July 2013.