December 16, 2019
In the case of Royal Mail Group v Jhuti the issue before the Supreme Court was regarding the real reason for her dismissal. Ms Jhuti worked in the Royal Mail’s media department and made a protected disclosure (“whistleblowing”) stating that the company was in breach of Ofcom’s guidelines.
Following Ms Jhuti’s disclosure her manager falsified claims regarding poor performance. Due to the pressure applied upon her by her manager she was forced to retract her statement and Ms Jhuti went on a period of sick leave with stress and was eventually dismissed by a senior manager for capability. The senior manager was not privy to the background of Ms Jhuti, therefore as the final decision maker was unaware of the protected disclosure she had made. Following her dismissal, Ms Jhuti pursued a claim at the Employment Tribunal for automatic unfair dismissal.
The Supreme Court held that although Ms Jhuti was dismissed for poor performance it was founded that the real reason for Ms Jhuti’s dismissal was concealed by her line manager, and the invented a reason was presented to the senior manager to terminate Ms Jhuti’s employment. Thus, the real reason to dismiss was due to her disclosure.
The Courts have now held that the final decision maker cannot rely on lack of knowledge and most explore alternative routes prior to dismissal. The employer must ensure that they have gathered all relevant information to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the matter at hand before taking the decision to terminate.