Ex-Dyncorp Employee Wins Whistle Blower Claim
Ex-Dyncorp Employee Wins Whistle Blower Claim
August 02, 2002
For immediate release
EX-DYNCORP EMPLOYEE WINS WHISTLE BLOWER CLAIM
A former Police Monitor attached to the International Police Task Force located in Bosnia Herzegovina has won her claim for unfair dismissal against her employers, Dyncorp Aerospace UK Ltd. The Southampton Employment Tribunal, in a damning 21 page judgement, found that the real reason for the dismissal was because she had disclosed information relating to the failure of her employer and others to take adequate action in relation to the trafficking of women and children in Bosnia Herzogovina.
Kathryn Bolkovac, a former police officer from Nebraska U.S.A., was recruited by Dyncorp in June 1999 to become part of the international community assisting in the rebuilding of Bosnia - Herzogovina. Dyncorp is contracted by the US State Department to provide, amongst other things, personnel to overseas missions. She became a member of the International Peace Task Force (IPTF) well respected for her work as a gender monitor, initially tackling issues of domestic violence. However increasingly her work became more involved with dealing with the victims of an extensive trade in the illegal trafficking of women and children for the purposes of prostitution. Ms. Bolkovac became aware through her investigations that UN personnel, including Dyncorp employees, were involved.
She became increasingly concerned by the failure of police monitors and those responsible for them, particularly her employer, to recognise the seriousness of the problem and deal with it appropriately. On 9th October 1999 Ms. Bolkovac sent an email to personnel in the UN and Dyncorp describing the nature of trafficking and abuses perpetrated on women victims, she stated that some of the perpetrators were members of Special Forces, IPTF personnel and international/humanitarian employees in Bosnia Herzogovina.
A few days after sending this email Ms. Bolkovac was demoted, moved away from involvement in human rights work. In April 2001 she was dismissed.
Unanimously upholding her claim for unfair dismissal the Employment Tribunal found that they had "no hesitation" in finding that the failure of some elements of the UN administration including the IPTF to take an adequate grip on the situation and do something about it was of an exceptionally serious nature". the tribunal also found that Ms. Bolkovac acted reasonably in making the disclosure. Accepting the arguments of Ms. Bolkovac's counsel, Stephanie Harrison, the tribunal found the Ms. Bolkovac's action in sending the email was a protected disclosure and therefore a protected act under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
The tribunal found that Michael Stiers, Deputy Commission of the UN mission in Bosnia, and a Dyncorp employee, the man who demoted Ms. Bolkovac after her email "as from 9 October had his knife in [her] and was determined that she should be removed from her role as a Gender Monitor with IPTF". Dismissing Dyncorp's assertion that Ms. Bolkovac was dismissed for falsifying time sheets, the tribunal decided that Dyncorp employees who dismissed her acted in "complete defiance" of the disciplinary procedure on the basis of evidence which was "sketchy to the point of being non-existent". The tribunal decided that "There is no doubt whatever that the reason for [Ms. Bolkovac's] dismissal was that she made a protected disclosure".
A delighted Ms. Bolkovac said today "I am elated and thankful that the tribunal has found in my favour on this matter. My faith in justice and the hope that more individuals will come forward and speak the truth is encouraged. However, I know many people will still be intimidated by the actions of corrupt individuals and corporations who threaten them with loss of job or future career opportunities." Ms. Bolkovac will shortly be giving evidence in America on behalf of another Dyncorp employee dismissed in circumstances similar to her own. Commenting on criticism which has been made elsewhere of Dyncorp's operations, said "By fighting Dyncorp through legal channels in Europe I hoped to gain more international exposure to the existing problems. I believe in the strength of individuals as a means to make individuals, corporations and governments accountable for their actions. I hope the press will continue to follow the workings of corporations like Dyncorp. I also hope the American public will take a more active interest in overseas and corporate run operations and realise that the way our government is dealing with these operations is absolutely not the right way to do it and certainly not in the best interest of our wonderful nation."
Ms. Bolkovac's solicitor, Karen Bailey, said "we are very pleased with the result. For months Ms. Bolkovac has had to live under the shadow of a dismissal for dishonesty, an allegation which would have prevented her from returning to work as a police officer or in any of the human rights work which she was so committed to. The decision confirms my view of her as a woman of integrity and strength of character. Dyncorp is an enormous operation, with strong ties to the US government. She took on the big guns and won. The plight of trafficking victims is appalling and I am glad that Kathryn's case has gone some way to bringing it to wider attention. She is a significant example of the type of person that the Public Interest Disclosure Act is designed to protect. Like Kathryn I hope that this result will encourage more people who become aware of wrongdoing within their organisations to speak out."
A further hearing is scheduled for October at which the tribunal will decide upon the amount of compensation which Ms. Bolkovac should be awarded.
For further information contact Karen Bailey on the above number, or mobile 07967363 590.