Tribunal award compensation to Whistleblower

09 November 2012

Niall McMullan discusses a case in which he represented a Claimant awarded over ?57,000 compensation for unfair dismissal and discrimination under the whistleblowing legislation.

A nurse working within a residential home has been awarded over £57,000 in compensation for being unfairly dismissed and discriminated against for making a public interest disclosure to her employers.

At the time of her dismissal in July 2011, Ms Porter had been a registered Nurse for 42 years, and had been employed with Parkdean Nursing home for 17 of those years.  Ms Porter had commenced her shift in the morning of 12th June 2011 when her attention was brought to a patient in a distressed state.  Ms Porter attended to the patient and found that his colostomy bag had been leaking and it was covered by an incontinence pad.

Ms. Porter took a photograph of the incident because the patient did not think that he would have been believed by the Directors if there was no documentary evidence to prove it.  Ms Porter brought this incident to the attention of her Line Manager (the protected disclosure) and her Line Manager subsequently reported it to the Directors of the Company.

The Company’s disciplinary procedure was invoked against Ms Porter and she was brought to a disciplinary hearing to explain why she took the photograph. Following what the court later determined to be an inadequate investigation by the Nursing Home the Claimant was dismissed for, amongst other things, “Grossly indecent and immoral behaviour.”

Ms Porter brought legal proceedings against the Nursing Home for unfair dismissal and being treated badly as a result of the whistle blowing act. The court held that the whistle blowing disclosure made by Ms Porter was a protected disclosure in law because it was a disclosure of information made in the reasonable belief of Ms Porter, which tended to show that the health and safety of the patient had been, or was likely to be endangered.

Niall McMullan was the instructing solicitor for the Claimant in this case.  Niall specialises in employment law with Worthingtons Solicitors Belfast and represents both Claimants and Respondents in Industrial Tribunal proceedings.

 

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