Court rules victimisation applies to ex-employees

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A new court of appeal decision has extended the protection against victimisation to whistle-blowing ex-employees who have made ‘protected disclosures’.

Although there was protection from victimisation under discrimination law following a House of Lords decision in 2003, this had not been extended to other areas of employment law.

Both the employment tribunal and the appeal tribunal had considered that discrimination cases are different because they are affected by European law, which does not apply in the case of the Employment Rights Act.

But the court of appeal overturned this, with Lord Justice Ward saying: “It simply makes no sense at all to protect the current employee but not the former employee, especially since the frequent response of the embittered, exposed employer may well be dismissal and a determination to make life impossible for the ‘nasty little sneak’ for as long thereafter as he can.”

The case was brought by Diana Woodward who was head of financial institutions at Abbey National’s treasury services unit between 1991 and 1994, when she was made redundant.

A previous sex discrimination case had been settled without admission of liability but Ms Woodward brought a complaint to a tribunal in 2003, saying that she had suffered in terms of references and job prospects because during her time at Abbey she had voiced concerns about the way institutional investors’ funds were handled.

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