BP oil trader loses employment lawsuit after being stripped of whistleblowing protection
A BP oil trader has lost an employment lawsuit against the firm after a tribunal ruled he was not entitled to whistle-blower protections.
Jonathan Zarembok, who was fired from his job after flagging concerns about potential bribes being paid to Nigerian middlemen, claimed he was forced out unfairly.
He raised concerns about “abnormally large” fee payments being made to local agents in Nigeria in BP’s dealings with the country’s state-owned oil producer NNPC.
The oil trader later filed an employment lawsuit against his former employer over claims he was forced out of his job at the British oil major for blowing the whistle on the fee payments made to local agents working with Africa’s biggest oil company.
However, an employment tribunal dismissed Zarembok’s claims in ruling the oil trader is not entitled to whistle-blower protections, after it determined the BP exec’s flagging of concerns had failed to show any “wrongdoing was likely rather than merely possible”.
The case comes after Zarembok was fired from his job as a head trader on BP’s West Africa desk in April 2020 after taking parental leave in 2018.
The BP exec, who was paid a six-figure annual salary and given multiple multi-million-dollar bonuses, filed four claims against his former employer, in stating he was pushed out of his position at the British oil company for taking parental leave and blowing the whistle on BP’s Nigerian deals.
BP instead argued Zarembok’s whistleblowing activities had resulted in a breakdown in the oil trader’s trust and confidence in his team that had made it impossible for the him to continue in his position, as it argued he should not be entitled to whistle-blower protections.
A London employment tribunal has now ruled in favour of BP in determining Zarembok’s whistleblowing activities do not count as “protected disclosures,” meaning the oil trader is not covered by laws protecting whistleblowers.
The tribunal said Zarembok’s whistleblowing did not count as “protected disclosures,” as they had failed to show that any wrongdoing was likely, but instead showed that wrongdoing had merely been “possible”.
The tribunal noted that it was not in a position to decide whether any wrongdoing had taken place, but instead ruled that BP had reasonable grounds to dismiss Zarembok, on the basis that his suspicion of those he dealt with had undermined his suitability for the role.
A spokesperson for BP said: “We are pleased that the Tribunal found Mr Zarembok was not unfairly dismissed and was not a whistleblower as he had alleged and his claims in this regard were unfounded.”
Zarembok was approached by City A.M. for comment.