Did protected disclosures lead to dismissal?
Secure Care Ltd v Mott
Where an employee has reported concerns of malpractice to their employer which they reasonably believe are in the public interest they may gain protection against dismissal as a whistleblower. The employer may not have realised that the concerns were being raised as public interest disclosures but they will still be liable if that is shown to be the reason for dismissal. In the case of Secure Care Ltd v Mott the dispute was regarding whether the protected disclosure had been the cause of dismissal.
Mr Mott was a logistics manager. He had made a number of complaints to his employer about staff shortages, long working hours, rest breaks and other staffing difficulties, which he said endangered health and safety. He had subsequently been selected for redundancy together with two others. Mr Mott complained that his selection was down to him making protected disclosures and his dismissal was automatically unfair. He relied on nine disclosures that he stated amounted to whistleblowing.
The initial decision was that his claim succeeded. A Tribunal found that three of his nine disclosures did qualify for protection and then went on to conclude that it had been him 'pointing out problems' in all the communications that had a material effect on his selection for redundancy. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held the employer’s appeal had to be allowed as it was crucial that the protected disclosures were found to be the "sole or principal reason" for dismissal without regard to the other communications.
Key takeaway point
The case will need to be considered again to decide whether the three protected disclosures identified by the Tribunal were the sole or principal reason for Mr Mott’s dismissal. In practice many claimants tend to put forward numerous disclosures and argue that each one qualifies as a protected disclosure. This decision is a useful reminder that those which are found to be non-protected disclosures may hinder a claimant succeeding in circumstances where they have influenced the employer’s decision.
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