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Victimisation and whistleblowing in the workplace

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It has recently been reported that an NHS Trust has been ordered by an employment tribunal to pay an employee nurse over £26,000 for subjecting her to unlawful victimisation.

It is understood that the claimant noted how there was a lack of engagement between practitioners whilst working on ward and observed that the environment was divided. The claimant ‘blew the whistle’ in a conversation with her manager where she raised concerns of race discrimination on the ward in regards to the allocation of work, cliques of workers which she described as ‘divided by race’ and the bullying of two junior staff members.

It is reported that in response to the claimant’s disclosure, and apparently contrary to their own whistleblowing policies (as noted in the tribunal’s judgment), the respondent formalised the complaint, restricted the claimant from working and delayed communicating the outcome of the investigation into her conduct, to her. The tribunal saw this as a “classic case of an employer treating far too severely a person who had raised allegations because they had done so”. It was therefore determined that the Trust had victimised the claimant due to her action of whistleblowing and ordered them to pay her over £26,000 in compensation.

Victimisation

Under section 39 of the Equality Act 2010, an employer must not victimise an employee.

Section 27 of the Equality Act 2010 states that an individual is victimised if they are subjected to a detriment because they do, or are believed to have done, a protected act. A protected act incudes alleging or reporting discrimination, issuing tribunal or court proceedings as a result of discrimination or assisting another individual in doing so.

Claims of victimisation can be brought under the Equality Act 2010 by an individual in employment tribunals (in cases concerning acts in the course of employment) or the County Courts (in cases concerning acts in the course of their day to day lives as service users).

If you feel that you may have been subjected to victimisation, it is important to remember that there are strict time limits to bring claims of this nature. The limitation period in employment tribunal cases is three months less one day and in the County Court, it is six months less one day of the incident of alleged discrimination having occurred.

It is therefore imperative that should you find yourself in such circumstances, you seek specialist legal advice immediately. If you feel that you may have been subjected to victimisation and need further advice regarding this matter, please contact our specialist solicitors in the discrimination law department on 0161 696 6170 .

By Jackson Long, graduate paralegal in the employment and discrimination department

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