Whistleblowing chief executive awarded £57,000 for unfair dismissal

A chief executive who was dismissed after raising concerns that her company was trying to avoid paying tax has been awarded £57,000 compensation.

The case involved Mrs Faiza Rizvi, who worked for the medical staffing agency, Capital Care Services, for 11 years.

In 2017, she became concerned that the company was deliberately moving money out of the business to reduce its corporation tax liability. The truth of these allegations has never been established.

She said that when she raised her concerns with senior managers, they accused her of fraud and threatened to report her to newspapers. They also blocked her email account and disconnected her phone.

The company then sent her a letter alleging that she had put the business in serious jeopardy because she had “knowingly breached applicable laws by authorising falsifying documents and not keeping personal information secure or otherwise abusing such information”.

She was asked to resign but refused to do so, insisting that she had done nothing wrong.

A few weeks later, the company wrote to her saying that she was being dismissed without notice or notice pay on the grounds of gross misconduct.

She brought an unfair dismissal claim to the Employment Tribunal, which ruled in her favour. It held that the company dismissed her for no other reason than the fact that she had raised concerns about potential tax fraud, concerns that would qualify as “protected disclosures” if proved to be true.

It is against the law to dismiss employees or subject them to any detrimental treatment for making such disclosures.

However, in this case, Employment Judge Brown concluded that the company had subjected Mrs Rizvi to “protected disclosure detriments when it threatened to report her to newspapers, accused her of fraud, blocked access to her company email account, disconnected her mobile telephone and threatened to dismiss her”.

She added: “I could fairly draw the inference, from (the company’s) failure to follow any fair procedure, that they were not interested in establishing the truth of any allegations against her, but simply wished to dismiss her, come what may.”

Mrs Rizvi was awarded £48,512 compensation for unfair dismissal and £8,761 for injury to her feelings.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.

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