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Miller Samuel Hill Brown Solicitors Blog

From time to time we will post news articles and announcements relating to the firm and to various legal issues that may be of interest to you.

Chelsea’s Team Doctor Settles Tribunal Claim

Eva Carneiro, the former doctor for Chelsea FC’s first team, has reached a private settlement in her employment tribunal claim against the football club, reports the BBC.

Dr Carneiro claimed that she had been constructively dismissed by the club. She also brought a separate legal claim of sex discrimination against Mr Mourinho following an incident where she ran on to the football pitch during a match to treat a player. The player had to leave the pitch, leaving Chelsea temporarily with only nine players. Dr Carneiro alleges that Jose Mourinho shouted a derogatory, sex related phrase at her. Following this incident, Dr Carneiro was removed from first team duties and she then resigned.

While the newspapers have made a lot of copy out of the case given the high profile nature of the parties, the interesting legal point that arises is the fact the Mr Mourinho was personally named as a Respondent in the proceedings, even although he was not Dr Carneiro’s employer..

Section 109 of the Equality Act 2010 provides that acts of an employee are treated as carried out by the employer, whether or not they were done with the employer’s knowledge or approval. This is the provision which allows an employee who has been discriminated against to bring a claim against their employer, even where it is only one colleague who has acted in a discriminatory manner. However, section 110 also allows such claims to be brought against individual employees or agents instead of, or as well as, the employer. This is the basis upon which Dr Carneiro was able to raise a claim against Mr Mourinho.

An employee can be found liable for discrimination in such cases, even if the employer is not. For example, the employer may be able to show that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination occurring, but the employee continued to act in a discriminatory manner regardless. If discrimination is found, the only defence available to the employee is that they were relying on a statement by their employer that what they did was not discriminatory. On this basis, there was therefore a risk that if Mr Mourinho’s actions were found to amount to sex discrimination both he and Chelsea could be liable to pay compensation.  

Tribunal papers revealed that Dr Carneiro had previously rejected a £1.2m settlement offer from Chelsea, with the doctor choosing instead to have her case progress to a hearing.

The case was being heard at the London South Employment Tribunal in Croydon, and had been scheduled to last between seven and ten days.

However, it has now been reported that she has reached a confidential settlement in relation to both claims.

In a statement on its website, the football club said:

“Chelsea Football Club is pleased to announce that it has reached an agreement with Dr Carneiro which brings her employment tribunal proceedings against the club and Jose Mourinho to an end.

“The club regrets the circumstances which led to Dr Carneiro leaving the club and apologises unreservedly to her and her family for the distress caused. We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.”

In her own statement, Dr Carnerio expressed her relief that the tribunal case had been concluded, reports the BBC.

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