ET Says Employee Who Was Falsely Accused of Grooming Young Girls was Unfairly Dismissed

In the case of Mr D Whyley v Gypsumtools Ltd, the tribunal held that Mr Whyley had been unfairly dismissed. As such, they awarded him unfair dismissal compensation, amounting to £21,449.93.

We begin by discussing what happened in the case and the tribunal’s judgement. Then, we explore when you could be eligible to claim compensation if you believe you’ve been dismissed unfairly. Finally, we look at some other similar cases that have been in the news and one we personally handled. If you’ve been unfairly dismissed and need help, contact us today.

Mr Whyley’s Claim That He’d Been Unfairly Dismissed

Mr Whyley (“The Claimant”) worked in a warehouse for Gypsumtools Ltd (“The Respondent”). On 11 January 2021, out of curiosity, one of his colleagues Googled his name, revealing a video labelled ‘The Hunted One’. 

The video showed the claimant being accused of driving to meet someone he’d mistakenly believed to be a 14-year-old girl. The two men who’d approached Mr Whyley also accused him of exchanging messages of a sexual nature.

After discovering the video, the claimant’s line manager and a managing director were immediately informed. This resulted in a call to HR and a meeting with the claimant the same day. After the meeting, Mr Whyley was sent home and given the option to resign or have his contract terminated.

The respondent reasoned this decision was made because the team wouldn’t work with him following a breakdown of trust. They also said they faced reputational damage if the video was linked to them through Mr Whyley. However, the respondent made this decision despite the claimant outlining:

  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) didn’t prosecute him, as they believed he wasn’t guilty of the offence
  • He had a valid DBS certificate, proving he had no criminal charges or convictions
  • The only connection between him and the respondent was his LinkedIn profile, which he would remove
  • The video had been edited, and one of the accusers had been prosecuted
  • He and his partner would take steps to get the video removed and would monitor the internet for future uploads
  • His solicitors had advised that he didn’t need to disclose the incident with the respondent

A Grievance was Raised

Subsequently, Mr Whyley submitted a grievance on 14 January while being absent on sick leave due to work-related stress. Then, on 26 January, a grievance meeting occurred, where Mr Whyley complained about how the initial meeting had been conducted. He said it happened without notice and turned into a ‘hostile kangaroo court’. However, on 11 February, the claimant learned that his grievance wasn’t upheld.

He was also told the outcome of the initial meeting was to dismiss him for ‘some other substantial reason’. The respondent explained this arose due to a breakdown in trust with his colleagues and employer and reputational damage risks associated with his continued employment due to his actions. 

This was the first time he’d been informed in writing of his dismissal. Mr Whyley then made an unsuccessful grievance appeal, leading to ACAS early conciliation before an unfair dismissal claim was submitted on 28 July.

The Tribunal Ruled He’d Been Unfairly Dismissed

The tribunal began by deciding whether Mr Whyley had been dismissed for a fair reason. They outlined that the respondent claimed they’d dismissed him due to:

  • A breakdown in the relationship with colleagues
  • Potential reputational damage

However, they found the respondent hadn’t adequately investigated the reputational risks. Furthermore, had Mr Whyley disclosed the video earlier, the respondent said they may have been more supportive of him.

As such, the tribunal felt the real reasons the claimant had been dismissed were linked to his conduct. This included his conduct in the video, believing him to be guilty, and not disclosing the same to his employer. Yet, the tribunal stated that he hadn’t been prosecuted for the offences alleged in the video and wasn’t required to disclose it to the respondent.

Therefore, the tribunal couldn’t find a fair reason for Mr Whyley’s dismissal. Moreover, they believed the respondent hadn’t followed a fair process during his dismissal, not following their procedures, ACAS’, or natural justice. As a result, they concluded Mr Whyley had been unfairly dismissed and awarded him £21,449.93.

What is Unfair Dismissal?

If someone believes they’ve been unfairly dismissed, they may want to learn how to claim for unfair dismissal. Providing an individual is an employee who’s worked for their employer for at least two years, they could claim unfair dismissal if:

  • They weren’t dismissed for a fair reason
  • The procedure to dismiss them wasn’t fair

Should an individual believe they have an unfair dismissal claim, they must ensure they satisfy further eligibility criteria. This includes making a claim for unfair dismissal within the limitation period and undertaking ACAS’s early conciliation first.

Read our guide if you have been unfairly dismissed and want to learn more.

Unfair Dismissal Cases in the News

To provide a broader understanding of unfair dismissal claims, here are some that have recently been in the news:

  • Mr C Orugbu v Duncan Lewis Solicitors Ltd – Here, Mr Orugbu was held to have been unfairly dismissed and faced disability discrimination. His dismissal arose from absences linked to his health, which he’d previously made his employer aware of.
  • Ms Dyna Del Campo v Really Flexible Care Ltd – In this case, the tribunal ruled Ms Campo had been dismissed unfairly. This was because her employer didn’t investigate allegations against her or conduct a fair process.
  • Mrs E McNeill v Glynnhill Hotel Ltd – Despite the tribunal awarding no compensation due to Mrs McNeill’s conduct, they found her employer hadn’t followed a reasonable procedure. As such, they ruled her dismissal unfair.

Need Help Obtaining Unfair Dismissal Compensation?

If someone is wondering how to make an unfair dismissal claim, Redmans Solicitors are on hand. We are expert employment lawyers and have vast experience dealing with similar cases. For example, Chris Hadrill, a partner at Redmans, settled a client’s potential unfair dismissal claim by improving her settlement agreement by £3,000. Read the full case here.

If you’ve been unfairly dismissed and don’t know how to proceed, contact us today. We can discuss your case and advise on the next possible steps. Furthermore, we offer various funding options to ensure we can tailor our services to your circumstances.

So, to begin your journey with us today, simply: