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I’ve been victimised for raising concerns

I'VE BEEN VICTIMISED FOR RAISING CONCERNS

Victimisation at work

You could be facing victimisation at work for whistleblowing. It 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.

All acts of victimisation against whistleblowers are a breach of your employment rights.

We can help you challenge this behaviour and provide advice and information on the whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA). We can also provide advice on how to escalate the concerns.

If you have been victimised but it is not connected to whistleblowing, then we will not be able to offer you advice and we recommend that you call one of the other advice bodies found on our referral page.

Bullying and harassment from managers and co-workers

Working out if you are being victimised can sometimes be difficult to judge. You might find yourself in a situation where managers or co-workers are unhappy, disappointed or even angry about your decision to blow the whistle.

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. For example, there can be a big difference between not being greeted in the morning and being taken off a key project you were overseeing. We recommend keeping a diary or a timeline of incidents.

There is no formal list of what is considered victimisation but here are some examples:

  • The removal of key responsibilities, unfair comments about performance or conduct, denial of a job a promotion, career progression or closer monitoring, unrequested relocation, etc.
  • Ostracisation, bullying or harassment that makes your life difficult in the workplace
  • The misuse of disciplinary processes – this can be a direct challenge on why or how your raised your concerns, or an unfair or fabricated performance or conduct issue
  • Grievance or complaints made by co-workers in response to you having raised your concerns
  • Failure to provide an appropriate reference

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…

Things to consider

  • Tell your employer – 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. Without doing this no action can be taken.
  • The next question is who to approach; if the victimisation is coming from your line manager or supervisor, consider someone outside of the line management structure. This could be someone in the whistleblowing policy, human resources or even a senior manager you trust.
  • If the victimisation is coming from a manager you do not have day-to-day contact with, consider approaching your line manager or supervisor for assistance.
  • If the victimisation is coming from co-workers or colleagues, then consider approaching your line manager or supervisor. If this person is either involved in the behaviour or has turned a blind eye to it then consider consulting the whistleblowing policy, human resources or a senior manager who you trust.

What is a grievance?

A grievance is making a complaint about something that affects you or your individual employment contract. For example, if your employer doesn’t pay you on time, or if you are demoted unfairly, or given an unreasonable workload.

Putting in a grievance

If informal discussion hasn’t stopped the victimisation then you may need to consider a grievance, which is a more formal process to challenge this behaviour.

Whether you’re challenging managers or co-workers you will need to be more detailed about the link between the concerns you raised, and the victimisation you have suffered.

Spell out the concerns you have witnessed, the date you raised them, who you raised the concerns with and the victimisation that followed from this.

If the grievance is not upheld

You will need to take prompt action to appeal this decision. If the decision is not upheld, then it may lead to an employment tribunal (ET) claim, but there is a strict time limit (three months less one day) from the act of victimisation. We can offer advice on victimisation, but not the finer legal points on the time limits. For this, you will need to contact either your trade union, Law Works, the Citizens Advice or ACAS –  their contact details can be found on our referral page.

Defending yourself in a formal process

If you are being disciplined by managers or are facing a grievance launched by co-workers in response to you raising concerns, then here are some things to consider:

  • If you believe either that managers or co-workers are using a formal disciplinary or grievance process to victimise you, you will need to highlight how this process is being brought forward because you have raised concerns.
  • Remember though at the same time to defend any allegations against your own conduct or performance on their merits. Whistleblowing will not give you a shield against legitimate concerns about your conduct.
  • When drawing the link between the concerns you’ve raised and the formal process you’re going through, you should be detailed about what you raised, who it was raised with and what the response was. Drawing up a timeline of what has happened will assist you on this.  If you are facing gross misconduct charges, then please get in touch with us for advice.

The formal process has found against you

This is where a formal employer process such as a disciplinary or grievance has gone against you.  Here are some actions to consider taking:

  • You will need to consider appealing against the decision, challenging the allegations made and showing a link between the formal decision and the concerns you have raised. If you are in this situation then please contact us for advice. You can also consider speaking to your trade union representative if you’re a member.
  • If this formal process has led to your dismissal, please see the section on dismissal for further information.

Seeking advice

You can email us or call our Advice Line on 020 3117 2520  for support and advice but if you are a trade union member you should also consider contacting them in addition to speaking to us.

When to contact us for advice:

  • If victimisation is stopping you from either raising your concerns or escalating your concerns
  • If you are unsure who to approach and you want to informally discuss the victimisation that you are suffering
  • If you are unsure how to put together a grievance or complaint to formally challenge the victimisation you are suffering
  • If you are concerned that the disciplinary process will result in your dismissal

Been dismissed or forced out for raising concerns?

Read our advice on being dismissed, made redundant or forced to resign due to whistleblowing.

Do:

  • Keep calm and reasonable, this will be the best way to highlight unreasonable behaviour from the other party
  • Keep a diary or timeline that records victimisation – it will be useful to refer to when you contact us, trade union representatives and any other organisations
  • Challenge victimisation whether that’s informally or formally through a grievance – your employer needs to know what you’re going through
  • In verbal discussions with your employer (whether that’s managers, HR or the whistleblowing team) send a follow up email summarising the key points
  • Take notes in any meetings
  • Contact ACAS about early conciliation if you have been dismissed or forced out of your job

Don't

  • Suffer in silence, if you’re being victimised speak to someone, seek advice whether that’s from us, the trade union, ACAS, Citizens Advice or a lawyer
  • Assume that if your line manager or local management are victimising you that other senior managers or other employer functions (such as HR or the whistleblowing function) will be of the same attitude
  • Assume that blowing the whistle will protect you from allegations about your own conduct, you will need to engage with any allegations put forward by your employer
  • Wait around for advice – there are strict time limits (3 months plus a day from date of the last detriment). Please see our referral page for employment law advice bodies
  • Contact Protect for advice on non-whistleblowing Employment Tribunal claims, we are not general employment law experts. Please see the referral page for other bodies that can offer advice

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