In 2017 International Petroleum Ltd (IPL) appealed the tribunal decision which found that the Chief Executive, Alexander Osipov had been unfairly dismissed for making protected disclosures about the business’ operations and contracts which were awarded in west Africa. He had several disagreements with the company Chairman and one of the largest shareholders about his concerns.
The tribunal had awarded £1.7million for automatic unfair dismissal and victimisation (on the grounds that he was a whistleblower) but after this went to appeal, the award was increased to £2million – one of the largest awards ever given.
IPL took this to the Court of Appeal, and it has recently been announced that the appeal was dismissed, as the judges unanimously upheld the ruling made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. In doing so, the principle of individual liability (as well as corporate liability) for victimising whistleblowers has been significantly bolstered.
This forces employers to take their personal responsibilities toward the treatment of employees seriously when it comes to making decisions concerning whistleblowers. Training line managers on how to recognise and handle protected disclosures properly is going to be vital when it comes to minimising risk in this area.
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