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29th February, 2012

Record Compensation for Discrimination


A hospital consultant has been awarded £4.5m in compensation for the mental trauma she suffered after colleagues campaigned to get rid of her following maternity leave.

Dr Eva Michalak was successful in her claims for sex and race discrimination and unfair dismissal against her employer, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and three senior employees of the Trust.

It was claimed that senior employees plotted to terminate Dr Michalak’s employment through secret meetings before and during her maternity leave and that she was subjected to harassment, criticism and false allegations on her return to work from maternity leave.  She was suspended from work as a result of theses false allegations and subsequently dismissed.

A medical expert told the tribunal that Dr Michalak suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and endured insomnia, nightmares reliving events with the trust, repeated intrusive thoughts, persistent anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms and episodes of tightness and chest pain which have caused her to go to hospital on three occasions

This award is estimated to be the record amount of compensation awarded in a discrimination claim in the UK.

The case highlights the dangers for employers of discrimination claims as such claims have no compensation limit, unlike unfair dismissal claims which currently have a limit of £72,300 for the compensatory award.

Employers should ensure that they have in place sufficient policies to deal with equal opportunities, anti-harassment and bullying and dignity at work.

If you need advice in relation to potential or actual discrimination claims or need to amend or create a policy listed above, please contact Helen Watson in the Employment Team.



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