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A complaint about cramped working conditions posing a threat to health and safety can be a ‘protected disclosure’ made in the public interest if the complainant reasonably believes that other employees could similarly be affected by their cramped working conditions.
M injured her knee at work. Thereafter she had to work in cramped conditions that she claimed adversely affected her injury. Following her complaint, she alleged she had been denied time off work to visit her doctor and was put on an ‘improvement performance plan’. She resigned and claimed she had been constructively dismissed, arguing that her dismissal was automatically unfair because it was caused by her whistle-blowing complaint.
The tribunal struck out her claim on the basis that her complaints about her personal working conditions could not be ‘in the public interest’.
The EAT disagreed. Tribunals can strike out a claim at a preliminary hearing if the facts asserted by the Claimant, taken at their highest in favour of the Claimant, still could not form the basis of a valid claim. Here, it was possible that the Claimant was right that others might be affected by similarly bad working conditions and therefore, without further evidence, the employment judge was wrong to conclude that the Claimant was bound to fail to establish that her disclosure was in the public interest.
The case was therefore remitted to the tribunal for a full hearing.
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