If a company is surreptitiously operating a discriminatory hiring policy, and evidence from the HR system is leaked to prove it (i.e. records of the ethnic origin and gender of those promoted and hired). Would a whistle-blower have any legal protection against retaliation if they had no legitimate access to the HR system - or in other words they got in using a password they weren't supposed to know?
On a related issue how big does the difference between ethnic makeup of the hiring pool and the ethic makeup of those promoted need to be to prove discrimination? Example, lets say 20% of the company workforce has a particular ethnicity, and lets imagine that only one of the 50 people promoted in a year (only 2%) is from that ethnic group, would that constitute discrimination? or more importantly, would that constitute evidence of discrimination?
UPDATE - what do I mean by retaliation? - Lets say the whistle-blower works in IT, and lets say the HR system database uses the same default passwords widely known to most of the IT staff. A company that objects to having the whistle blown on it may decide that using this password to access the HR system counts as 'hacking' and use this to fire/prosecute the whistle-blower.
I guess what I'm asking is 'can a whistle-blower do something illegal to expose something illegal?'. Discrimination is illegal, but so is hacking the HR system to get the evidence.