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Dismissal unfair even though decision maker unaware manager manipulated facts 

Makbool Javaid

In Royal Mail Group v Jhuti, J reported to W that there had been a breach of Royal Mail’s rules and its regulators requirements. W advised her to admit that she was mistaken, which she did fearing she would lose her job. W then set J an “ever changing unattainable list of requirements”. J was dismissed by another manager, V, for poor performance. V knew nothing about the public interest disclosures. 

The Court of Appeal held that there could be certain situations where, if a manager had manipulated the facts, and the dismissing officer was unaware, that motivation could be attributed to the employer, thereby making the reason for dismissal whistleblowing and automatically unfair. However, in the specific circumstances of this case the ET was only obliged to consider the mental processes of the employer’s authorised decision-maker.

The Supreme Court disagreed. In searching for the reason for a dismissal, courts need generally look only at the reason given by the decision-maker. But where the real reason is hidden from the decision-maker behind an invented reason, the court must penetrate through the invention. If a person in the hierarchy of responsibility above the employee determines that she should be dismissed for one reason (whistleblowing) but hides it behind an invented reason (poor performance) which the decision-maker adopts, the reason for the dismissal is the hidden reason rather than the invented reason.


The updates are kindly provided by Simons Muirhead & Burton Law firm

This update provides summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. Where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented and help judgments made in every aspect of the case. Click on the links to access full details. If no link is provided, contact us for more information.  Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, SM&B cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.

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