Employee dismissal – being aware matters

In a complex and ongoing case, the Court of Appeal reversed a ruling by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (“EAT”) which had found that an employee could succeed in a claim for automatically unfair dismissal for whistleblowing even if the person making the decision to dismiss was unaware of the employee having blown the whistle.

In the case the Royal Mail Group Limited v Jhuti, the individual in charge of dismissing Ms Jhuti was unaware of a previous protected disclosure relating to Royal Mail failing to meet Ofcom standards. It was also claimed this information was deliberately withheld.  

In addition, it was further alleged that the person withholding this information influenced the person who was responsible for Mr Jhuti’s dismissal.

The above decision was subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeal, who found that in determining the reason for the dismissal, the fairness of the dismissal should be judged by what the decision maker knew.

Comment: This is a complex case and one which an appeal has been filed so the final outcome is still not known. However there are still some basic lessons to be learnt. We advise that all managers should be given all relevant information when a disciplinary process is being carried out if they are to avoid similar situations.