Eva Carneiro settles Chelsea claim

Earlier this month Dr Eva Carneiro settled her claim against Chelsea and Jose Mourinho on the second day of the tribunal hearing, before any evidence had been heard.

One interesting feature was the fact, which emerged on the first day of the hearing, that Chelsea had made an offer of £1.2million to Dr Carneiro to settle the claim.

The claim was for unfair dismissal and discrimination. Compensation in ordinary unfair dismissal claims is capped at one years’ gross salary or £78,962 (whichever is the lower), however that cap is lifted where the dismissal is discriminatory as alleged in this case. That said, compensation is still based on the employee’s salary and designed to reflect how long it would take the employee to get back to the same position as before the dismissal (i.e. how long until they can earn as much as they used to).

Although Dr Carneiro was presumably a high earner and, if successful in her discrimination claim, would have also been awarded compensation for injury to feelings (usually no more than £32,000), an offer of £1.2million would appear, from the outside at least, to be generous one.

The fact that several senior Chelsea figures, including Jose Mourinho, attended the tribunal on the day of the settlement suggest that perhaps one of the sticking points was the wording of an apology and it was notable that Chelsea issued a statement to the effect that Dr Carneiro had done nothing wrong in going on the pitch to treat Eden Hazard (which is the incident that precipitated the entire case).

If there is anything for employers to take away it is perhaps that this is an exceptional case and the sums described are very far from the norm. The average unfair dismissal award is in the region of £10,000 with discrimination claims generally receiving a slightly higher amount.

Dominic Bonham