Whistleblowers lose their appeal
7:00pm Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
TWO former outreach workers at Swindon homeless charity Threshold Housing Link have lost an employment tribunal against their dismissals.
James Derieg and Tony Niester were fired for gross misconduct after breaching the organisation’s communications policy by speaking to the Adver.
The whistleblowers claimed they made ‘protected disclosures’ – shielding them from disciplinary action in the public interest – saying they failed to have concerns about governance, financial affairs and conflicts of interest addressed by the charity.
But a 12-page judgment ruled the dismissals were “fair” despite the pair originally raising problems that needed to be addressed internally.
Threshold trustee David Price said: “We are pleased that the tribunal supported the charity’s actions. It is hoped that the ruling will bring the matter to a close and that everyone can focus on the charity’s main objective of helping Swindon’s homeless people.
“Last year more than 750 people turned to the charity for support. We offer simple access to accommodation and referral to a planned resettlement programme that encourage peoples to achieve their goal of having a place they can call home.
“Threshold is led by a committed and confident board of trustees and a strong senior management team. Together we are focusing on sustaining the charity, and providing vital services that Swindon’s homeless people desperately need.”
The whistleblowers, who were familiar faces on the streets of Swindon, attended a three-day tribunal in August.
They told the hearing in Bristol that they exhausted other channels before speaking to the Adver for an article which was published last June.
Mr Derieg, from Kemble, has found a new role as a supported housing worker.
He said: “We have been found legally wrong, but in the words of my current manager, ‘at least I’m on the right side of wrong’.
“We exhausted every avenue but throughout it all we have not found anyone willing to provide an opinion on the moral issues we spoke out about.”
Mr Niester, from Old Town, said: “I’m glad a very stressful time is over but I have no regrets. I did what I thought was right and nothing since has changed my views.”
The pair said they felt let down by the charity’s membership base which they claimed had done little to back them .
The panel found: “We are satisfied that the dismissal was within the range of reasonable sanctions open to the employer.
“The reason for dismissing the claimants and not imposing a lesser penalty was the gravity of harm caused to the reputation of the respondent and the loss of trust and confidence in the claimants.
“Although we are in no doubt that the dismissal in these circumstances was fair we find it very regrettable that the claimants lost their jobs as there is no doubt they were dedicated to their work and initially raised problems that needed to be addressed.”
Comments are closed on this article.