Independent Vetcare was founded in 2011 and is now the largest veterinary care business in...
The eagle-eyed among you may have seen the recent reports of the Supreme Court’s judgement against the Royal Mail Group, if so you can’t be blamed if you lost interest in reading further – whistleblowing can be a tricky one to unpick. However, there is a very important lesson to be learned here which applies to any potential dismissal process.
Ms Jhuti blew the whistle to her manager about alleged Ofcom breaches. Her manager didn’t take too kindly to this, and pursued a campaign of performance management which eventually led to Ms Jhuti being signed off work sick with stress. A different, more senior manager was tasked with the escalation of the performance management process and dismissed Ms Jhuti based on the reports of incompetence.
Ms Jhuti claimed she was dismissed because she blew the whistle – and it appears that is what motivated her manager’s actions. Surely though the Royal Mail Group couldn’t be liable for a whistleblowing claim: the senior manager had no clue about those allegations and genuinely dismissed Ms Jhuti because of the reports of her poor performance?
Wrong! The Supreme Court said that the line manager’s knowledge of Ms Jhuti’s whistleblowing, which motivated the performance management process, were all imputed to the dismissing manager. In other words, the immediate line manager may as well have dismissed Ms Jhuti - trying to conceal the real reason for forcing her out of the business by involving another level of manager just didn’t wash.
This highlights for employers the need to carry out a thorough investigation and always consider the possibility that there could be more to the story than the facts selected and presented to a decision-maker. Whistleblower protection is wide, it applies from day one of employment and the scope for compensation is unlimited.