Doctor wins compensation following
Employment Law & HR update 20/12/2012
A female doctor who suffered discrimination during her work at
Pontefract General Infirmary has been awarded a compensation
The £4.5 million award – which is thought to be the largest to
be paid out following a discrimination case in the UK – was due to
race and sex discrimination.
Dr Eva Michalak was the victim of a "concerted campaign" by her
colleagues at the hospital to end her employment whilst she was on
A Leeds tribunal heard that senior staff members plotted to
force her out when she was seven months pregnant. They held secret
meetings to discuss plans and Dr Michalak, an obstetrician, was
then accused of bullying junior doctors. Her competency was also
questioned by colleagues due to her Polish origin and training.
The doctor was then forced to endure a "lengthy and wholly
unauthorised period of suspension" before she was disciplined in
May 2007. Her dismissal was finalised in July 2008.
Following the tribunal, the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
and senior staff members have been told to pay the doctor
£4,452,206.60 as a result of the discrimination. They have also
apologised to Dr Michalak.
The tribunal panel called the disciplinary procedure used by the
hospital trust "bogus", saying that Dr Michalak was dismissed "for
no good or justifiable reason."
Commenting on the record payout, Nick Soret of Mentor said "This
case really shows the risks employers face if they are found to
have committed unlawful discrimination against any of their
Compensation in discrimination cases is unlimited, so there is
no ceiling on payouts. But the compensation awarded in this case is
unusually high because it compensated Dr Michalak, a doctor with
potential large future earnings both in the NHS and privately, for
lost earnings for the remainder of her career, which was ruined by
The case is also unusual because most high compensation payouts
for discrimination have been in the banking sector - where earnings
are also high - and such cases are often settled without going to a
full tribunal hearing. It certainly shows that employment tribunals
are prepared to use their full powers in certain cases.
It is also interesting that the case happened within the NHS - a
large public sector body with strict equality policies, but
presumably these were not sufficient to prevent senior people
within the organisation committing the most serious acts of
discrimination. Simple things such as ensuring all staff grievances
are treated seriously, investigated properly, and appropriate
follow-up action is taken will prevent things spiralling out of
control as appears to have happened in this case".
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