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Whistleblower awarded £30K after reporting ‘sheesha cave’

In the case of Miss F A v Human Relief Foundation, an employee who reported her colleagues for smoking and hookah use in the office has been awarded over £30,000 in compensation. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Miss FA discovered cigarette ash and hookah equipment at the charity’s office and reported it in a whistleblowing letter.

In the case of Miss F A v Human Relief Foundation an employee who reported her colleagues for having cigarette ash and hookah pipe equipment in the office has been awarded over £30,000 in compensation.

Miss FA, an employee at the Human Relief Foundation charity, claimed that during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, she visited the office to collect her belongings and discovered “ash in mugs,” glass bottles on tables, coal burners, and hookah equipment.

A lawyer-prepared report for her tribunal case, shared with the industry publication Third Sector, stated that Miss FA found the office reeked of smoke and had a sign reading “HRF Sheesha Cave.” She reported her findings in a whistleblowing letter to the charity’s management in September 2020 and was promised an investigation.

Miss FA also alleged she was assured her colleagues wouldn’t know she had identified them in the letter. Despite this, she claimed she faced a “series of detriments,” including feeling intimidated by colleagues when she returned to the office to collect her belongings, making her fear for her safety, according to the report.

The tribunal awarded Miss FA £30,000 for unfair dismissal and injury to feelings due to the detriments following her protected disclosure. Additionally, she received £1,607 for breach of contract related to the charity paying her only 80% of her salary during a furlough period.

Complaints about alleged disability discrimination, religious discrimination, harassment, and failure to make reasonable adjustments were dismissed by the Manchester tribunal.

In June 2024, after a subsequent hearing regarding whether the charity should cover her legal costs, the employment tribunal awarded Miss FA an additional £9,777.

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