Royal Mail Group Ltd v Jhuti [2019] UKSC 55


Ms Jhuti made a protected disclosure to her line manager about a breach of Royal Mail's rules and its regulator's requirements. He advised her to admit that she was mistaken and send an email withdrawing her allegation, which she did. He then managed her performance very closely and set her impossible goals. She went on sick leave and was ultimately dismissed for poor performance by a manager who was unaware of the background. The dismissing manager relied on the line manager's confirmation that he had addressed Ms Jhuti's original concerns and that they were based on a misunderstanding. Ms Jhuti brought a claim that she had been automatically unfairly dismissed for making protected disclosures. 


The Supreme Court upheld her claim. It held that where the real reason for a dismissal is hidden from the decision-maker behind an invented reason, the court must penetrate through the invention and not allow it to infect its own decision. In a situation such as this, the reason for the dismissal is the hidden reason rather than the invented reason.


This is a worrying decision for employers: decision-makers will now have to ask the right questions and satisfy themselves that there is no invented or hidden reason for dismissal. Hopefully such cases will be rare. Because of the wording of the relevant legislation this decision will apply to ordinary unfair dismissal cases, as well as automatically unfair dismissal cases such as this one.

This article is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice.