VICTIMISATION AT WORK FOR WHISTLEBLOWING
All acts of victimisation against whistleblowers are a breach of your employment rights.
Victimisation may come from managers or co-workers and it can come in many different forms, from bullying and harassment to dismissal from your job. This section will give you advice on how to deal with this.
If you have been victimised but it is not connected to whistleblowing, then we recommend that you call one of the other organisations found on our referral page.
Have you been victimised for whistleblowing?
Working out if you are being victimised can sometimes be difficult to judge.
A helpful way to think about whether an emotional response to whistleblowing crosses over into victimisation is whether any acts from managers or co-workers makes it difficult for you to do your job. If they do, this is more likely to be victimisation. For example, there can be a big difference between not being greeted in the morning because your co-workers are unhappy about you blowing the whistle (not necessarily victimisation) and being taken off a key project you were overseeing (victimisation).
There is no formal list of what is considered victimisation but here are some examples:
STEP 1: Tell your employer that you have been victimised for whistleblowing
It’s important to inform your employer if you have been victimised for raising concerns, even if it’s an informal conversation or via email. Telling your employer is usually the quickest way to resolve problems in the workplace.
It’s helpful to inform your employer about the victimisation in writing (or follow up a verbal conversation in writing) to ensure you have a paper trail about what has happened and who you have told about it.
If your colleagues are victimising you, consider telling your line manager or supervisor.
If you’ve already told your line manager and it hasn’t helped, consider consulting the whistleblowing policy, or approaching human resources or a senior manager who you trust.
If your line manager or supervisor is the one victimising you, consider consulting the whistleblowing policy, or approaching human resources or a senior manager who you trust. Don’t assume that just because your line manager is victimising you that other senior managers or other employer functions (such as HR or the whistleblowing function) will act the same.
STEP 2: Put in a grievance
If speaking to your employer informally hasn’t stopped the victimisation, you may want to consider putting in a grievance. A grievance is a more formal process to challenge the negative repercussions you’ve faced for whistleblowing.
It’s important that in your grievance, you go into detail about the link between the whistleblowing concerns you raised, and the victimisation you have suffered.
In the grievance, mention: (i) what you have witnessed, (ii) the date you raised your concerns, (iii) who you raised the concerns to and (iv) how exactly you were victimised in response to raising concerns.
If you are not happy with the outcome of the grievance, you may wish to appeal the decision using your employer’s grievance policy. You will need to do so quickly, and beware of time limits for bringing an employment tribunal claim (see more below).
Read our page on the difference between raising a grievance and whistleblowing for more information.
STEP 3: Bring an Employment Tribunal claim
If your grievance is unsuccessful, then the next step to challenge the victimisation would be to bring an employment tribunal claim.
Bringing a claim against your employer in the employment tribunal is a very serious step and should only be used as a last resort, because it risks irreparably damaging the employment relationship. But sometimes it can be the only option to hold your employer accountable.
Things to consider if you are bringing an employment tribunal claim for victimisation:
Are you being disciplined or facing an investigation because you raised whistleblowing concerns?
If you are being disciplined by more senior staff members or facing a grievance launched by co-workers in response to you raising concerns, you will need to respond to the allegations made against you. It is not enough simply to say that the disciplinary process is being used against you because you raised whistleblowing concerns. This is because whistleblowing law doesn’t protect you from being held accountable for wrongdoing, so you need to defend the allegations made against you.
Here are some tips on how to defend yourself and challenge your employer’s actions:
If the grievance or disciplinary process has found against you and you haven’t been able to defend yourself, you may need to appeal against the decision. You should challenge the allegations made, drawing a link between the formal decision and the concerns you raised.
If you have been dismissed, please see our page on dismissal for more information.
When to contact us for advice:
People we've helped
Felix (not his real name) worked in a care home. He and some of his colleagues believed that a manager was stealing from residents by recording money as being given to particular residents when they had received none…
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