Court of Appeal judgment: liability in whistleblowing claims
On Friday 19 October, the Court of Appeal gave judgment in the important case of Timis and Sage v Osipov, which concerned the liability of individual employees in whistleblowing claims.
The Court determined that individual employees can be held liable for losses resulting from a decision to dismiss a whistleblower. The dismissed whistleblower can bring a detriment claim against individual decision-makers for acts which caused his/her dismissal – and can therefore benefit from the less strict causation test which applies in detriment claims (the protected disclosures must have been a "material influence" on the decision to dismiss, rather than the sole or principal reason for the dismissal, as in a whistleblowing unfair dismissal claim). The whistleblower can then claim all losses flowing from the dismissal and compensation for injury to feelings from the individual employees and the employer will be vicariously liable unless it can show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful treatment.
The case emphasises how important it is that all employees are aware of the extensive legal protection enjoyed by whistleblowers and that businesses implement robust whistleblowing policies, without which a business is highly unlikely to succeed in a "reasonable steps" defence.
For further information, please contact Head of Employment Jane Amphlett.