automatic unfair dismissal for making a protected disclosure

Mary Gavin

04 June 2015

In the case of Munn v Chemtest Ireland Ltd, the claimant was dismissed on the 28th July 2014, some 7 months after he started working for the respondent.

He claimed that he had been unfairly dismissed on grounds of having made a protected disclosure (whistleblowing).  During the course of his work he became aware of mould appearing on samples for analysis and brought this to his manager’s attention.  He raised the issue again with the managing director and advised him of the consequences.  The claimant considered that improvements needed to be made but he was viewed as being “difficult” and informed there was no money for same.   He claimed that the relationship with his line manager deteriorated as a result of his disclosures. He submitted that he had not suffered from bipolar disorder for some 7 years but his symptoms resurfaced and he had to take sick leave.  He did not however notify his employer and was subject to a disciplinary meeting for unauthorised absence.  He was informed that the disciplinary meeting would be rearranged however, no attempts were made to rearrange it and he was simply sent a letter terminating his employment.   He appealed the decision and despite informing his employer that he had difficulties dealing with matters over the phone, he was not offered a face to face meeting.  Furthermore, he was in fact still certified as sick at the time of his appeal and was erroneously informed by his employer at the outset of his appeal hearing that he was not entitled to bring an unfair dismissal claim as he did not have one year’s service.

The Tribunal found that “the main reason why the claimant was dismissed was because he had shown himself to be “difficult” in raising a number of protected disclosures.”  The Tribunal also stated “The claimant had previously lodged medical certificates showing his illness as “depression”.  In our view the way that the respondent dealt with this is simply breathtaking.” 

The Tribunal decided that the claimant had been unfairly dismissed on the grounds of having made a protected disclosure and was entitled to £28,722.30 in compensation.  The Tribunal concluded “We also believe that the respondent failed in its obligation to make a reasonable adjustment to take account of the claimant’s disability, namely bipolar disorder.  We can appreciate that it can be difficult for an employer to deal with unfamiliar medical conditions, in particular mental illnesses, where different conditions can affect individuals in different ways.  It would however have been reasonably straightforward and relatively cheap for the respondent to have obtained a medical report on the claimant’s condition before embarking on a course of action which led to this industrial tribunal hearing, with all the time and expense involved”.  The Tribunal awarded a further £9,375 for failing to make a reasonable adjustment on the grounds of the claimant’s disability together with interest of £584.01.

If you have any queries regarding whistle-blowing/protected disclosures or any other employment law matter, please contact Gerry Daly at or Mary Gavin at  Alternatively, you can telephone our office on 028 9024 3901 or contact us online using the contact us form.