Employee who secretly recorded colleagues loses dismissal claim

An employee who made secret recordings of his work colleagues has lost his claims of unfair dismissal and discrimination.

The case involved Mr Ch Tan who described himself as Chinese Singaporean by ethnicity and gay by sexual orientation.

In 2012, he had joined Copthorne Hotels Ltd as Senior Vice President, Procurement. Throughout his employment, he made extensive covert recordings of his colleagues.

In 2016, he was told that he was at risk of redundancy. He went off sick with work-related stress and consultation was dealt with by way of written representations. Following the conclusion of the consultation process, he was made redundant.

He brought claims to the Employment Tribunal that he had been discriminated against because of his ethnicity and/or sexual orientation in relation to the level of his salary, and his bonus and share allocations, and that he had been victimised because he had been dismissed for complaining that his pay and benefits had been depressed because of his ethnicity and/or sexual orientation.

He also claimed unfair dismissal and harassment. Acts of alleged harassment included being told on several occasions not to behave like a diva and on one occasion to behave more Chinese.

The tribunal ruled against him on all counts. It held that the reason for his dismissal was redundancy, and the employer had followed a fair procedure.

Even if the dismissal had been unfair, Tan would have been dismissed anyway as soon as the employer found out about the making of his covert recordings, which had been duplicitous and undermined the relationship of trust and confidence in the workplace. 

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