At a glance
- The Supreme Court addressed whether an e-mail sent from an employee representative to a manager in the company, constituted whistleblowing under the Working Environment Act (WEA).
- The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the employee representative and concluded that the e-mail met the requirements for whistleblowing.
The Supreme Court addressed whether an e-mail sent from an employee representative to a manager in the company constituted whistleblowing under section 2 A-1 and 2 A-2 of the WEA. The employee representative made a claim for redress and compensation under the WEA.
The employee representative had assisted a work colleague in a meeting with a HR manager. On the following day, the employee representative sent an e-mail to a manager in the company, in which he criticised the HR manager’s behavior in the meeting. In a later meeting, the employee representative received a written warning as a result of the e-mail he sent, after which he was reassigned.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the employee representative and concluded that the e-mail met the requirements for whistleblowing. The Supreme Court proceedings were confined to determining whether the email from the shop steward should be regarded as ‘a report concerning issues of concern’ as defined by the Working Environment Act.
The Supreme Court judgment clarifies that there is no public interest requirement for internal whistleblowing. Additionally, it is important to highlight that the Supreme Court determined the limitation against whistleblowing concerning ‘own employment’ to not be relevant. In this case, the employee representative had not raised concerns about their personal employment. This interpretation implies that matters that are worthy of criticism which only concern one employee, are covered by the whistleblowing rules when reported by an employee representative addressing matters of concern.
As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the employee was protected from any form of retaliation from the employer.