Jhuti v Royal Mail Group Limited – employee awarded over £100,000 in damages following successful whistleblowing complaint

29th November 2022

Jhuti v Royal Mail Group Limited – employee awarded over £100,000 in damages following successful whistleblowing complaint


Ms Jhuti was employed by Royal Mail from September 2013 until she was dismissed in October 2014. During her employment she made a number of protected disclosures to her line manager about a colleague she suspected of breaching Royal Mail’s rules and the requirements of its regulator. Her line manager responded by questioning Ms Jhuti’s understanding of the rules and requirements and forcing her to retract her disclosures and admit she had made a mistake. Her performance was monitored weekly and she was subjected to intensive performance targets. Ms Jhuti complained to HR but nothing was done and following further stressful meetings she complained to HR that she was being bullied and harassed because of the disclosures she had made. She subsequently went on sick leave and raised a grievance. In response she was offered (and rejected) a year’s salary to leave her employment.

An independent manager was appointed to review the case but not the grievance. The manager was not made aware that Ms Jhuti had made the protected disclosures and was not informed of the evidence relating to this but was aware that she was upset about something. Ms Jhuti’s manager did disclose during the investigation that Ms Jhuti had made complaints about improper conduct but had withdrawn these.

Genuinely believing that she was a poor performer, the independent manager decided that she should be dismissed for that reason.

As a result of being subject to such treatment, Ms Jhuti suffered from work-related stress which escalated to severe depression and anxiety as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tribunal and Supreme Court Decision

Following a 7 year legal battle, the Supreme Court found that Ms Jhuti had been automatically unfairly dismissed as well as being subject to detrimental treatment by her employer because she had made the protected disclosures.

In previous hearings, it had been held that there could be no automatic unfair dismissal where the decision-maker did not know about and could not be motivated by the protected disclosures. However, in these specific circumstances, the Supreme Court disagreed. It relied upon the common sense approach that “legal technicalities shall not prevail against industrial realities and common sense”.

The Supreme Court made it very clear that if an employee is dismissed on grounds invented by someone more senior than him or her in the business, that person’s true reason for acting as they did will be the real reason for the dismissal. This will be the case even if the decision to dismiss was made by another person acting in good faith on the invented grounds.

The Employment Tribunal awarded Ms Jhuti £109,065. The award was made up of personal injury (£55,000), injury to feelings (£40,000) and aggravated damages (£12,500). The Tribunal found that Royal Mail’s treatment of Ms Jhuti has “destroyed [her] life”.

What should businesses consider?

This case is a reminder of the importance for employers of following a clear and transparent decision-making process and that they should train managers who carry out investigations. Whilst for “normal” unfair dismissal claims compensation is capped at one year’s salary, there is no such limit for successful whistleblowing claims. The following should be considered:

  • When dismissing an employee, employers should ensure that the reason advanced is sufficiently backed up by evidence and stands up to scrutiny.
  • HR should ensure that the person deciding whether to terminate an employee’s employment has access to all the relevant information. This may include information about disclosures that an employee has raised with a line manager even if the allegations were withdrawn or not fully investigated.
  • The decision-maker must probe appropriately to test the veracity and reliability of evidence produced. Here the decision-maker relied on the line manager’s evidence of poor performance and passing remarks about withdrawn allegations about another employee’s conduct and did not sufficiently probe this.
  • Even if an employee is unwell, a decision-maker should consider testing the version of events provided by a line manager by offering the employee the opportunity to provide comments by phone or email if they are not able to attend in person.

If you would like to discuss any of the above matters please contact one of our Employment experts on 0161 832 3434.

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