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One step too far – pushed out at work

Howells Solicitors

30 Oct, 2015

Yesterday evening (29.10.15) it was confirmed that solicitors acting for Dr Eva Carneiro, the doctor formally employed by Chelsea Football Club, had lodged a claim for Constructive Dismissal –

Given the global audience for the Premier League, this has obviously caught the public’s attention. The incident that ultimately led to her resignation was played out in a very public manner. Dr Carneiro was employed as a Doctor for the First Team, often seen on the bench with the rest of the coaching staff and rushing on to the pitch to assist injured players. During a game on 8 August, one Chelsea player appeared to be injured and Dr Carneiro treated him on the pitch for a short time. Chelsea’s manager, Jose Mourinho was not impressed and expressed his dissatisfaction in a public manner. Further comments and criticisms were made by Mr Mourinho in his post game press conferences and shortly after it was confirmed that Dr Carneiro would not be permitted to attend first team games and sit on the bench.

We do not know what happened behind closed doors, other than knowing that the Football Association investigated the matter and determined there was no discrimination. We know that Dr Carneiro resigned on 22 September and has now commenced her legal claims, the exact content of which we do not know.

It has been reported that a claim for Constructive Unfair Dismissal has been made. This can be a complex and difficult claim to bring in the Employment Tribunal. For an employee to succeed in a claim of this nature they would need to have resigned their employment – this is often a difficult step for employees, given that they are making themselves voluntarily unemployed, having an obvious impact on their finances and future security. Once the employee has resigned, for the claim, they have to establish that they have resigned because of their employer’s conduct. That conduct must have been so serious and so bad as to amount to a fundamental breach of contract, essentially something that renders the employment relationship irreparably broken. Furthermore, the employee must demonstrate that they have resigned promptly in response to the breach that they allege has occurred.

Examples of breaches of contract that may be relevant to Dr Carneiro’s situation include the comments aimed at her during the match by Mr Mourinho, the comments made in the subsequent press conferences and her removal from first team and match duties.

Discriminatory conduct, humiliation, bullying, undue and unreasonable criticism and demotion are all potential examples of breaches. All employment contracts also have an implied term of mutual trust and confidence – for the employment relationship to work, the employee and employer must have trust and confidence in each other.

It remains to be seen how Dr Carneiro’s case proceeds, many Employment Tribunal claims reach a resolution out of court, so the exact details of her claim or the outcome of it may never be known.

If you are having a tough time at work, if you feel that you are being treated unfairly, if you are thinking of leaving – Howells Employment Team are here to help, if you want to talk through your situation or require some advice about a Constructive Dismissal claim, please get in touch.

Tom Bernard
Employment and Discrimination Solicitor

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