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Worker loses unfair dismissal claim after reporting manager for stuffing sock in care home resident’s mouth to ‘stop him from shouting’

In the case of Ms J P v The Complete Care Group Limited Ms JP was employed by the respondent, which runs care homes, as a community development worker.

In the case of Ms J P v The Complete Care Group Limited Ms JP was employed by the respondent, which runs care homes, as a community development worker.

Ms JP reported her female manager, ZB, for using a lighter to frighten another person being cared for at the home in Eastbourne and for stuffing a sock in a care home resident’s mouth to ‘stop him from shouting’.

Following these incidents, the ‘gobsmacked’ carer told the home’s owners she could no longer work under the woman. Ms JP was so upset and ‘appalled’ at the manager that she didn’t attend work for one shift, the tribunal heard.

At a meeting with the owners, she was called ‘brave’ for reporting what she had witnessed.

However, the carer was sacked after the meeting due to her missing work which was labelled ‘unacceptable’.

The tribunal heard this was the only shift she had ever missed.

Explaining why she hadn’t attended work, Ms JP said: ‘There is a reason why I can’t work with ZB and what I’ve seen her do before – I feel she has behaved unprofessionally’.

The tribunal accepted that Ms JP had been right to blow the whistle on her superior.

‘The Tribunal considers that [she] held a reasonable belief that the disclosures she made were true and that, in respect of each, there was some form of wrongdoing by ZB.

‘The Tribunal has considered that the [care home company] is a residential care establishment and is therefore, in the public interest, subject to high scrutiny and regulatory requirements over the treatment of its residents.

‘In the case of the sock and lighter disclosures, ZB was the alleged wrong doer. She led a relatively prominent role within the [care home company] and could therefore have a significant impact on the lives of those in residential care.

‘It would be reasonable to believe that she could continue to have such an effect.’

However, as Ms JP’s meeting with the owners to discuss her absence had already been arranged, the tribunal found that her sacking was not connected with her whistleblowing.

Employment Judge Helen Rice-Birchall said: ‘The tribunal concludes that the reason, or principal reason, for dismissal was her absence and that the disclosures were not a material factor in the decision to dismiss.

‘The fact that the dismissal was in time proximate to the protected disclosures being made is not in itself sufficient to conclude that the disclosures led to the dismissal.’

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