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Disclosures to previous employer protected

Posted on 20th May 2010
Case law

The whistleblowing provisions protect an employee from treatment arising from a disclosure made whilst working for a previous employer.

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Mr Elstone could bring a claim against BP even though the disclosures where made whilst he was employed by Petrotechnics

BP plc v Elstone [2010]

Background

Mr Elstone was employed by Petrotechnics Ltd. Petrotechnics evaluated safety processes for clients, including BP. Petrotechnics concluded that Mr Elstone had disclosed confidential information when he told representatives of BP about some safety concerns and he was dismissed. Mr Elstone alleged he had made a protected disclosure.

Mr Elstone subsequently worked as a consultant with BP. He was declined further work after Petrotechnics informed BP that Mr Elstone had been dismissed for disclosing confidential information.

The decision

The EAT upheld the Employment Tribunal's decision that Mr Elstone could bring a claim against BP even though the disclosures where made whilst he was employed by Petrotechnics. In doing so, the EAT considered the wording in the Employment Rights Act 1996 ('the Act'). It concluded that it was enough that Mr Elstone was employed by Petrotechnics at the time he made the disclosure and it did not matter that BP, against whom he was claiming, was not the same.

Comment

The decision demonstrates that a worker is entitled to protection against a detriment by their current employer done because they made a disclosure while employed by another. As the Act only protects against a detriment by a person's 'employer' the protection does not extend to someone who is declined employment because they have previously blown the whistle. Whether this hole will be plugged remains to be seen.

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