Record-breaking £4.5 Million Discrimination Award

2 mins

Posted on 19 Dec 2011

The Leeds Employment Tribunal has awarded record-breaking compensation of 4.5 million pounds to Dr Eva Michalak following a campaign of sex and race discrimination by her former employer, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.  Dr Michalak suffered severe psychiatric damage as a result of years of harassment and false allegations which formed part of a concerted campaign to end her employment when she became pregnant and went on maternity leave not long after her appointment . 

The award included £56,000 for psychiatric injury and £30,000 for injury to feelings but the bulk of the award was for future loss of earnings (£941,800) and pension loss (£666,000).   

The Tribunal ordered three senior members of staff including a human resources manager to pay the award as well as the Trust.  

Peter Doyle, Senior partner says:

"This is an unusually high award, due mainly to the fact that the tribunal found that Dr Michalak's career had been destroyed and she was unlikely ever to be able to return to her chosen profession because of the trauma she suffered.   

The lesson for employers must be to ensure that proper and effective training is given to staff on discrimination issues in order to minimise the risk of discrimination claims.  Complaints of bullying and harassment must be investigated properly, by an independent investigator if necessary, and dealt with appropriately.   However, even that might not be enough. Whatever steps an employer takes to protect itself and its staff,  successful claims cannot be ruled out entirely.   The financial exposures are such that employers and managers may have to consider using insurance protection to guard against massive pay-outs of this kind.  Awards at this level might seriously jeopardise the future of the employer or its operations.

The case also highlights the need to ensure that women who return from maternity leave are accepted and treated with dignity and respect."

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