Friday, 16 December 2011

An Employment Tribunal Award - huge compensation award

It is at Employment Tribunals where questions of unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination at the workplace are heard.   The case of Dr. Eva Michalak v Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust and 14 other respondents  - (135 page judgment) - was decided at a tribunal in which sat in Leeds.  The case is a sorry tale and the final outcome is a large award of compensation.   The judgment on compensation is set out in a 44 page document - Dr E Michalak v Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and others.  Dr Michalak was awarded £7180 for unfair dismissal and £4,452,206.60p for unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex and race.  See The Telegraph 16th December - "Woman doctor wins £4.5m for being fired after having a baby."

In relation to the sum of almost £4.5m, the NHS Trust and 3 respondents (Dr David Dawson, Dr Colin White and Mrs Diane Nicholls - Human Resources Director at the Trust) are jointly and severally liable.  Clearly, the trust will have the largest pot of money and this is money the NHS can ill afford at any time never mind in this abysmal economic climate.  The fact that
other employees such as the Resources Director can also be liable is salutary.

The £4,161,564.60 is actually the sum required to provide the claimant with £2,103,262.31.  The tribunal allows for the taxman's slice !

Employers have argued that high levels of compensation in discrimination cases can lead to weak, speculative or even vexatious cases.  Whether this is true is a moot point.  Naturally, higher levels of compensation will be awarded where the discrimination is extreme or where the claimant had a particularly high income from the employment.  In May, the government announced that compensation payments for discrimination would be added to their Employment Law Review..  However, EU Council Directive 2000/78/EC entitled “Establishing a General Framework for Equal Treatment in Employment and Occupation” Article 17 states:

“Member states shall lay down the rules on sanctions applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are applied. The sanctions, which may comprise the payment of compensation to the victim, must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.”  (Emphasis added).

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