Whistleblower parking warden awarded £20,000 for unfair dismissal but told he can’t have his job back

A London Borough has been ordered to pay over £20,000 in compensation to a former employee after it was found at an Employment Tribunal that he had been unfairly dismissed.

Mr Hakin Berkani, 44, was employed by NSL as a parking warden. NSL was contracted to provide “enforcement solution” services for the London Borough of Chelsea & Kensington, mainly relating to the penalising of motorists for parking offences. It is unclear from the facts when he commenced employment. However, he was dismissed in 2011 for whistle-blowing on the London Borough’s illegal secret quota policy after he was noted tipping off a driver set to be given a ticket by another warden.

Mr Berkani subsequently filed a claim at the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal and automatic unfair dismissal. This related to claims for the unfair nature and procedure relating to his dismissal, the fact that he had been fired because of his whistle-blowing, and because he had suffered a detriment because of his Trade Union activities. He requested compensation and reinstatement as a remedy.

The Employment Tribunal found in Mr Berkani’s favour in relation to his claim for unfair dismissal. They found on the balance of probabilities that Mr Berkani had been unfairly dismissed, and that his dismissal related to his Trade Union activities and his whistle-blowing on the London Borough’s secret parking ticket quota. The Employment Tribunal also found that the three managers at NSL had collaborated to ensure that “trumped-up” charges were applied to Mr Berkani – charges that resulted in his dismissal.

Mr Berkani was awarded £20,000 in compensation for past and future earnings but was told that he could not have his job back as that would send him back to the “lion’s den”.

It is not particularly surprising that Mr Berkani was successful in claiming unfair dismissal. The evidence relating to the collaboration of the managers would have demonstrated that the dismissal of Mr Berkani was not within the reasonable range of responses in the circumstances. Further, Mr Berkani had clearly made a protected disclosure under the Employment Rights Act 1996, a disclosure that was in good faith. The Employment Tribunal was entitled to infer on the basis of the other evidence that the protected disclosure had caused Mr Berkani’s dismissal.

The value of the award for unfair dismissal is relatively high, given the low median value of unfair dismissal awards in the Employment Tribunal. However, it is not surprising that Mr Berkani wasn’t reinstated to his job. Although he stated that he wished to return to his job, reinstatement is almost never an option in the Employment Tribunal because of friction between the Claimant and their former employer.