City worker who blew the whistle on financial malpractice wins unfair dismissal claim

A City executive who blew the whistle on financial malpractice and was subjected to ongoing victimisation after her employment ended was unfairly dismissed, a tribunal has ruled. The claimant’s employer suspended her for gross misconduct after she attended a work trip while signed off sick. It concluded that the company attempted to “attack her credibility” after she blew the whistle on financial malpractice.

The tribunal said that the employer’s treatment caused “a very high level of injury to her feelings” over a sustained and long period of time, describing the actions of the organisation as “concerted and malicious”.

The employee was head of compliance in a large financial trading organisation and had never been subject to any performance management, up to the point of her dismissal. There was also no evidence of any negative formal appraisal.

Her executive had asked her to open an account in his name, and urged the request be kept confidential. She informed the compliance director, of the request and discovered that previous requests of a similar nature had been refused.

She flagged various other requests that raised legal concerns over compliance with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules and regulations, which she was responsible for upholding. Following this, she was asked to attend several meetings to discuss delays in processing new clients and delays to the rollout of a new data security compliance protocol – neither of which the employee felt were down to her actions.

After one such meeting during which she was shouted at, she was admitted to A&E several times over the following days with chest pains, a suspected panic attack and abdominal pains. She was then signed off by her GP for two weeks with stress and anxiety.

At this time, the employee attended business trip to Dubai but remained signed off.  It was suspected that this was more a “romantic” holiday than a business trip and a disciplinary investigation ensued; including checking that the medical certificate was genuine and if work had been undertaken whilst in Dubai.  It was found that the covert disciplinary investigation was unnecessary and the company was criticised for not involving the employee in any aspect of its investigation.

The employee raised a grievance and eventually resigned.  She was unable to secure new employment as a result of her employer raising legal action whenever she tried to secure new employment with an alleged competitor.  The employment tribunal found that she had been victimised and unfairly dismissed.

According to the tribunal, the injury to feelings “had a profound effect on almost every aspect of her life” and awarded the employee a total of £76,510 in compensation, including £40,000 damages for injury to feelings.

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