Employees can have various rights as “whistleblowers” not to be detrimentally treated on the grounds that they have made protected disclosures (usually to their employers). The case of Cumbria County Council –v- Carlisle-Morgan has considered the extent to which employers are vicariously liable for the actions of other employees who victimise whistleblowers on grounds of the disclosures they have made.

This case involved a care worker in a residential home, who had seen another worker (Mrs H) behaving improperly, and had reported that worker to her employers. She then alleged, successfully, that she had been subjected to various acts of victimisation at the hands of Mrs H, because she had reported her activities.

The court held that an employer could be responsible for the acts of an employee such as Mrs H, if she acted “in the course of employment” and if Mrs H’s actions were “closely connected” with acts Mrs H was authorised by the employer to do. In short, if whistleblowers properly bring wrongdoing to the attention of an employer, that employer will find it difficult to avoid being liable for the acts of another employee who subsequently victimises the whistleblower.