A whistleblower is a worker who makes a “protected disclosure”, usually to his employer, about breach of a legal obligation. Disclosures may be about a criminal offence, a breach of health and safety regulations or a breach of the worker’s employment contract. A breach of the employer’s own rules would not normally qualify.
Workers have a right not to be subjected to any detriment or disadvantage by the employer because they have made a protected disclosure. Where an employee is dismissed and the reason for that dismissal is that he has made a protected disclosure, such dismissal is ‘automatically’ unfair. If a worker suffers any detriment or disadvantage (other than dismissal) because he made a protected disclosure, he is awarded compensation for ‘injury to feelings’, as well as for any financial loss. Compensation for financial loss is unlimited.
“I would like to express my sincerest thanks for all your help in person…we would like someone who is reliable and good, basically someone of your calibre.” – Dr A A, London University
An employer is liable for a detriment imposed by another employee, under the principle of vicarious liability.
Larger employers often have a specific procedure to deal with whistleblowing allegations.
There are often disputes as to whether an act or complaint is a ‘protected disclosure’, as well as whether such act caused a detriment or dismissal. Both facts and law in these cases are rarely straightforward. We can help.