A publishing company employee who was sacked for whistleblowing has won more than £18,000 in damages after the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) rejected arguments that her own blameworthiness was such that her dismissal was inevitable.
The woman had complained that she and other members of the company’s administrative staff were unfairly paid less than its sales team. She was dismissed on the basis that she had disclosed confidential payroll information. Her attitude towards other members of staff was also criticised and she was alleged to have shown disrespect to a director.
The Employment Tribunal (ET) upheld her whistleblowing claim, brought under the Employment Rights Act 1996, and awarded her total damages of £33,941 for her unfair dismissal. However, the employer’s appeal against the size of her award was subsequently allowed and the ET was directed to examine the matter afresh.
At the second time of asking, the ET ruled that the woman was entitled to a basic award of only £2,992 after finding that her own conduct meant that her dismissal had been a 100 per cent certainty. However, in allowing her appeal against that decision, the EAT found that the reasons given by the ET were inadequate to the point of being ‘impossible to understand’ and that its refusal to make any compensatory award was ‘perverse’.
The EAT chose to revisit the issue itself, rather than send the matter back for yet another hearing. It ruled that it was ‘by no means inevitable’ that the woman would have lost her job but nevertheless found that a substantial reduction in her award was appropriate. Her final payout came to just over £18,000.