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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

02 MAY 2012

Heinisch v Germany [2011] IRLR 922 (European Court of Human Rights)

Whistle-blowing

21 July 2011

European Court of Human Rights

Dean Spielmann, President, Karel Jungwiert, Boštjan M. Zupančič, Mark Villiger, Isabelle Berro-Lefèvre, Ann Power, Angelika Nußberger, judges and Claudia Westerdiek, Section Registrar

Dismissing someone for making a criminal complaint to the relevant authorities can amount to a breach of the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Whether it does so depends on whether the interference with the right to freedom of expression is proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued. Relevant factors include the degree of public interest in the disclosure; the authenticity of the information disclosed; whether the disclosure is motivated by a personal grievance or personal antagonism or expectation of financial gain; whether there are alternative channels for making the disclosure. The right to freedom of expression must be balanced against the employee's duty of loyalty.

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