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Dyncorp Last Minute U-turn In Whistleblowing Case

PRESS RELEASE

Dyncorp’s Last Minute U-turn In Whistleblowing Case

Dyncorp, the US company, which dealt with the contracts of American officers working for the international police force in Bosnia and who has recently won the contract to supply police officers to Iraq, has withdrawn their appeal against Southampton Employment Tribunal’s decision that they unfairly dismissed Kathryn Bolkovac

Kathryn Bolkovac, a former member of the international peacekeeping task force in Bosnia, was demoted and then dismissed after revealing that UN peacekeepers went to night-clubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers. She also informed her employers that UN personnel and international aid workers were linked to prostitution rings in the Balkans.

The employment tribunal ordered Dyncorp to pay her £110,221. In the tribunal hearing the panel criticised Dyncorp’s "extraordinary attitude" towards Ms Bolkovac. The chairman, Charles Twiss, said: "It is hard to imagine a case in which a firm has acted in a more callous, spiteful and vindictive manner towards a former employee."

The appeal was due to be heard on Friday 2nd May 2003, however Dyncorp unexpectedly withdrew their appeal at the last minute and have now paid the damages awarded to Ms Bolkovac plus interest. The reversal of Dyncorp’s stance was attributed to a “change in the culture” of the organisation, following the sale of the company to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), an information technology company. There would appear to have been now change in Dyncorp’s internal structure and Miss Bolkovac remains sceptical about whether the change of ownership will make the Iraqi population any less likely to suffer the same fate as some of the women and children in Bosnia. She stated “CSC/Dyncorp has the same managers and employees in high level and consulting positions who were involved in my demotion and my dismissal. I am pleased that my position is vindicated by Dyncorp’s eventual acceptance of the tribunal decision. However, I remain concerned that any changes will only be cosmetic and vulnerable people will continue to be at risk. I hope that now that my claim has proved successful, any other people who uncover wrong doing will not be afraid of speaking out.”

Miss Bolkovac was also concerned that Dyncorp continued to receive substantial contracts from the US Government when there appeared to have been no real scrutiny of the issues that she and another former employee Ben Johnston complained about. Mr Johnston was also dismissed after raising his concerns. Dyncorp settled his case within hours of the decision in Miss Bolkovac’s case.

The case is interesting from a legal perspective in that there are still relatively few rulings on whistle blowing cases. Further, Ms. Bolkovac’s lawyers believe that this is the first case in which a tribunal has ruled that the public interest disclosure related to “an exceptionally serious failure” on the part of the employers. Another uncommon feature of the case was that Miss Bolkovac, whose contract with Dyncorp only had two more months to run, recovered continuing losses associated with her dismissal together with a substantial sum for injury to feelings, which is unusual in breaches of contract. The sum for injury to feelings included aggravated damages for the way in which her dismissal was handled.

Miss Bolkovac’s solicitors, Bailey Wright & Co. said, “I hope the result encourages other employees to speak out about wrong doing, but I also hope that they do not have to go through the same ordeal as Miss Bolkovac. She will never be able to work again within the international community, because of the influence that Dyncorp has. She loved her job and was good at it. Given Dyncorp’s increasing influence in sensitive areas of the world, I hope the US State department has a good look at their practices. It should make sure that they make every effort to employ more people like Kathy and root out those who participated in trafficking and/or dismissed her for speaking out about it.”

For further information contact Kathryn Bolkovac on 0031-629047561 or Karen Bailey on 0121 244 6600.

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