Can an employer be liable for whistleblowing?

17th January 2020

Can an employer be liable for whistleblowing?

If the main reason for a dismissal is the fact that the employee has ‘blown the whistle’, the dismissal will be automatically unfair. Recently, the Supreme Court held that an employer was liable for automatic unfair dismissal even though the decision maker did not know that the employee had made protected disclosures.

In Royal Mail v Jhuti, the employee made protected disclosures relating to alleged breaches of Royal Mail rules and Ofcom requirements. She told her team leader. Her team leader suggested that her allegations could cause problems for everyone and asked her to retract them. The team leader subsequently raised performance issues for the first time. The employee found this very upsetting and began worrying about her future employment and so withdrew her complaint. The employee was then put through a performance management process with targets and expectations which were unrealistic. She claimed that she was subjected to a detriment because of the protected disclosure she had made. A different manager was appointed to consider her dismissal on performance grounds. Details of the whistleblowing allegations were not made available to this manager and she was told that the employee accepted that it had been a misunderstanding. Ultimately the employee was dismissed by the second manager for poor performance.

The Supreme Court held that the employee had been unfairly dismissed. If a more senior employee decides someone should be dismissed (hiding the real reason) and the decision maker accepts this decision, the reason for dismissal is the hidden reason. To clarify, in this case, the real reason for the dismissal was the fact that the employee had blown the whistle, rather than her performance.

Employers should always ensure that dismissing officers ask for full details of any allegations raised by an employee, especially those relating to whistleblowing or discrimination. In most companies or organisations this level of manipulation by managers will be rare but it can be costly if it does arise, so care must be taken.

For advice regarding dismissal or whistleblowing, please contact Marie Allen on 01473 298126 or email

Blog Posts

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – FAQS


As part of its package to support employers, businesses and employees during the COVID-19…

Read More
Upcoming Events

Supply Chain Supper Club – February 2020


This event is invite only. If you would like to receive an invite, please…

Read More
News Posts

Redundancy – the duty to look for alternative employment


In order for a dismissal on grounds of redundancy to be fair, an employer…

Read More


"Prompt, helpful, polite and very professional service"


"The ease that we could access and speak to Pat Smith - Thank you"


"We found Rachel Dawson outstanding, polite, professional and caring."


"We were very pleased to have Jade as our solicitor, the service was excellent and we felt kept in the loop which minimised stress"

- CT

"Jade Shelton was absolutely fantastic!! Professional and proactive at all times."

- JH

"I would like to say thank you for your help, support and guidance over the last two and a half years. Obviously should I need further assistance in the future I shall not hesitate to call you guys."


"Approachable, very efficient, always willing to take my calls and update me."

- SH

"Jade made the process of buying our first home quick, easy and took the stress out of a new chapter of our lives"


"“ This is the second time we have used Tracey for the conveyancing to buy our new home. She is always completely approachable, she has helped us along the way with advice and useful tips that has helped lessen the stress. We have complete confidence in her and would not hesitate to recommend her to our friends and family”.  - Peter Dawes, Cater Dawes Financial Planning "


"This is by far the go-to firm for any issues. You are made to feel valued from the outset and they are so confident in what they do. Wouldn't recommend any other. Thank you Hugh and Max."

- Ros Jones

Please select preferred method of contact

* We will only contact you by telephone if you select this as primary form of contact. All web enquiries will be stored on our website for 30 days.