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Whistleblower Pharmacist Sacked After Just 18 Days in New Job

A pharmacist who lasted just 18 days in a new job before she was unfairly sacked for her activities as a whistleblower had her compensation reduced by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on the basis that the only detriment she suffered was the dismissal itself.

During her brief period of employment – which included a bank holiday weekend and a seven-day induction period – the pharmacist had made 17 separate disclosures to her bosses relating to alleged health and safety breaches and failures to comply with legal obligations. Her employer had responded immediately to her emails and agreed to put in hand any necessary changes to its procedures.

An Employment Tribunal (ET) later found that she had been dismissed because her employer resented her criticisms of its practices and procedures. The ‘principal reason’ for the loss of her job was the making of the protected disclosures and her dismissal was thus automatically unfair. She was awarded compensation of £17,520 after the ET found that she had also suffered detriment before her departure.

In allowing the employer’s appeal in part, the EAT noted that the woman’s dismissal had come only three days after she made the bulk of her complaints. Her employer had assured her that her criticisms would be promptly and fully addressed and, in the circumstances, she could have had no reasonable sense of grievance at the stress that she had endured for such a brief period.

The EAT also had ‘significant misgivings’ about the finding of automatic unfair dismissal. However, dismissing the employer’s appeal in that respect, the EAT ruled that that conclusion was open to the ET on the evidence and that the reason for the pharmacist’s dismissal was essentially an issue of fact.

The EAT’s decision that the pharmacist had suffered no detriment short of dismissal was bound to lead to a reduction in her compensation. However, argument in that respect was left over to a later date.