Posted by Gemma Ospedale, Partner
On 1 September 2016 Withy King LLP merged with Royds LLP. The trading name for the merged firm is Royds Withy King. All content produced prior to this date will remain in the name of the firms pre-merger.
Summary dismissal for disclosing confidential information was unfair
In Stimpson v CitiBank the Employment Tribunal has held that the employer’s decision to summarily dismiss a foreign exchange trader for disclosing confidential client information to traders from different banks in an online chat room was unfair and wrongful.
The bank was one of those involved in the LIBOR manipulation scandal. The bank had a culture of information sharing and the Tribunal found that the bank could not rely on a strict reading of its policies and codes of practice and protecting confidential information without properly investigating how these policies were actually applied in the foreign exchange business, or the extent to which the information was already in the public domain. It held that a reasonable investigation would have revealed that there was a culture of information sharing between the traders at different banks and this was something that had been highlighted in a regulatory investigation by the FCA.
It also found that the bank’s investigation was even more inadequate in its failure to look at the relevance of the FCA regulatory investigation for the disciplinary process or to interview witnesses who might have corroborated the trader’s defence. The Tribunal further found that the trader was not in repudiatory breach of contract because the breach of confidentiality was not deliberate as he believed his conduct was permitted, given the similar conduct of his peers and immediate managers. Finally, at the time of dismissal, he had not actually shared confidential information in chat rooms for 3 years following a management instruction on their use.
This case is a useful reminder of the importance of the investigation in disciplinary matters where someone is potentially subject to a disciplinary hearing, especially in cases where summary dismissal may have a very severe effect on the employee’s future career prospects.
It pays to employ the right employment solicitor