Dr Eva Michalak has won £4.5 million in compensation after her bosses mounted a campaign against her when she fell pregnant.
An Employment Tribunal recently awarded the staggering sum of £4.5 million by way of compensation for unlawful sex and race discrimination (a figure which the tabloids have pointed out would be enough to pay 210 nurses for a year). This is thought to be the highest ever discrimination award made in the UK.
Polish born Dr Eva Michalak was employed by the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust as a consultant. She claimed that she took maternity leave and on her return raised concerns about payments made to colleagues in her absence (but not to her) which lead to a concerted campaign by the Trust (referred to in the proceedings as the “Get Eva” campaign) to end her employment. As part of this campaign she claimed that she was subjected to a bogus disciplinary procedure and an unjustified and lengthy period of suspension from 2006 which culminated in her dismissal in 2008. She said that her dismissal was the conclusion of an extensive process of sex and race discrimination related to the fact that she’d made a protected disclosure and amounted to disability discrimination. The Tribunal accepted her arguments and went so far as it say it was ‘positively outraged’ by her treatment by the Trust and senior employees within it.
It would be fair to say that the case is exceptional. As a result of her treatment by the Trust she developed a chronic and disabling post-traumatic stress disorder, together with depression and anxiety. The Tribunal were told how she was left unable to accomplish the simplest of tasks without oversight and supervision, leading to her husband having to give up work to care for her. The Tribunal concluded that she would never work again.
Dr Michalak earned just short of £90,000 in her post. The £4.5 million figure was based on numerous heads of loss, including £30,000 for injury to feelings, £50,000 for psychiatric injury, £170,000 for lost earnings to date, £941,000 for future loss of salary (taking her to retirement age), £666,000 for pension losses, £50,000 for medical treatment, £43,000 for past care and £31,000 for future care. The dismissal had taken place when the statutory grievance and dismissal procedures were in place and therefore the Tribunal had discretion to award a 50% uplift in respect of Trust’s failure to follow the statutory grievance procedure. The Tribunal said that it would have had ‘no hesitation’ in ordering the full 50% uplift were it not for the amount this would translate to in monetary terms, and instead elected to apply a more modest 15% figure. A significant portion of the £4.5 million (almost £2 million) was an uplift to take into account the fact that the compensation would for the most part be taxable. The Tribunal concluded that the Trust and some named respondents were jointly and severally liable to pay the award.
This was certainly an exceptional case but serves as a reminder of the huge potential liabilities that can arise in discrimination cases and the need to ensure that staff receive and understand equal opportunities training.
For more information about Equal Opportunities training, click here.
To read more Unfair Dismissal related articles, click here.
If you would like more information or advice relating to a specific matter, please do not hesitate to contact Keely Rushmore on 01727 798017 or by email at email@example.com or any member of the Employment Team.
© SA LAW 2012
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