A Tribunal has held that a foreign exchange worker was wrongly and unfairly dismissed from his job at a bank, for disclosing confidential client information to traders from different banks, in an online chat room.
Employment policies and codes of practice
The Tribunal found that it was insufficient for the bank to rely on a strict reading of its policies and codes of practice about protecting confidential information, without having properly investigated how the policies were actually applied in the foreign exchange business; or the extent to which the information was already in the public domain.
What an investigation should have shown
A reasonable investigation would have revealed that there was a culture of information sharing between foreign and exchange traders at different banks; a fact that was highlighted by a regulatory investigation into the bank by the FSA.
The inadequacy of the bank’s investigation was compounded by its failure to address the relevance of the regulatory investigation for the disciplinary process or to interview witnesses who might have corroborated the trader’s defence. The Tribunal also found that the trader was not in a repudiatory breach of contract. The breach of confidentiality was not deliberate as the employee believed that his conduct was permitted, given the similar conduct of his peers and immediate managers. Furthermore, at the time of the dismissal he had not shared confidential information in chat rooms for 3 years following a specific management instruction on the use of chat rooms.
Advice for employers about employment policies and unfair dismissal
If you are considering dismissing an employee for any reason and would like to double check that it would be fair and correct to do so, it may be worthwhile to speak to an employment law expert before taking any action. Similarly, if you aren’t sure whether your policies and codes of practice adequately explain the dos and don’ts for areas such as confidential information, you can easily have these checked.
To speak to an employment law expert, call our team of corporate and employment lawyers using the telephone numbers below.
Leicester 0116 254 8871
Hinckley 01455 639 900
Market Harborough 01858 467 181