Whistleblowers often claim that they were dismissed due to their whistleblowing activities and are therefore entitled to the special statutory compensation intended to protect whistleblowers.
Without attempting to exhaust all the intricacies of such a claim, it must be remembered that even if an employee is convinced that the irregularities cautioned against occurred and is genuinely displeased by them, he or she must exercise caution as unrestrained conduct could lead to lawful dismissal.
In a recent case, an employee in a pizza chain sent his managers a letter of demand stating that it was being sent before he took legal action.(1) In the letter, the employee warned that employee entitlements had been breached for many years and that the breach reflected company policy. Further, the employee demanded that the company pay him compensation, without substantiating his demand, adding that he was willing to help other employees in view of the breach of their entitlements.
The employee was summoned to a hearing and dismissed.
The employee's claim that he had been dismissed due to whistleblowing was denied. The labour court accepted the company's position that the employee had been dismissed because of his allegation that the company had adopted a discriminatory policy and due to his unbridled, injurious and disrespectful conduct.
The court found that the employee had breached the duty of good faith owed to his employer by raising unsubstantiated demands for compensation and creating a link between said demands and his willingness to assist other employees in receiving their entitlements.