Workplace whistleblowers who act in the public interest by exposing wrongdoing are protected by the full force of the law. In a case on point, a hospital worker who endured detrimental treatment after making protected disclosures was awarded substantial compensation (Elysium Healthcare No. 2 Limited v Ogunlami).
The man, a healthcare assistant at a mental hospital, had claimed during a meeting that his line manager was taking food from a patient. He later expressed concerns in a letter to a human resources adviser that the manager had access to and control of witnesses relevant to an internal investigation. Finally, in an email, he alleged to a safeguarding officer that the manager had abused a patient.
In upholding his complaints, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that all three of those disclosures were protected by Section 47B of the Employment Rights Act 1996. He had made them in the reasonable belief that they were in the public interest and exposed failures to comply with legal obligations.
In awarding him £7,500 in damages, the ET found that he had been subjected to detrimental treatment as a result of making those disclosures. He had, without his consent, been transferred from one section of the hospital to another, and had received a threatening email from the hospital's director. In rejecting his employer's challenge to that decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) found that the ET's conclusions on the evidence were unimpeachable.