WHISTLEBLOWING AND DECISION-MAKER’S KNOWLEDGE
There’s been a lot in the press about the case of Royal Mail Group Limited -v- Jhuti recently. Briefly, the facts are that:-
- Jhuti worked in RM’s media team and made a number of disclosures to OFCOM;
- her line manager responded in kind by constructing a false picture of inadequate performance; and
- this false picture lead to her dismissal by a senior manager.
The Supreme Court decided that:-
- an employment tribunal could look beyond the mental processes of the decision maker;
- if a person in the hierarchy of responsibility above the employee determined that they should be dismissed for a reason (e.g. because of whistleblowing), but hid it behind an invented reason (e.g. inadequate performance) which the decision-maker adopted, the reason for the dismissal was the hidden reason, rather than the invented reason; and
- on the facts of this case, the reason for the dismissal given in good faith by the dismissing officer turned out to have been bogus.
The key message here is that knowledge can be imputed within the employer, based upon the case’s circumstances. Hence, those who deal with hearings should always scrutinise the evidence, process and the reasoning, before reaching a conclusion.