BACKGROUND: A doctor who was dismissed from her position at a hospital in the north of England has been awarded £4.5 million after winning a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal, sex and race discrimination.
Dr R claimed at a tribunal that after making a complaint about suffering sex discrimination in the workplace, she endured a long and drawn out campaign against her which eventually resulted in her dismissal.
She advised that when she returned from a period of maternity leave she made a complaint about not being paid as other staff and it was this action that precipitated a campaign of sex and race discrimination against her.
Dr R claimed she was subject to bogus complaints and unfounded accusations of bullying. The trust suspended her and it took nearly 18 months to bring disciplinary action against her, which resulted in her employment being terminated.
OUTCOME: A medical expert concluded that, by the time of her dismissal, Dr R was suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and was unlikely to be able to work again as her condition affected her carrying out basic day-to-day tasks.
As a result, the payout was made up mostly of Dr R’s forecasted future loss of earnings and loss of pension. However, the tribunal also ‘grossed up’ the award to reflect the amount of tax Dr R would need to pay on it, which almost doubled the amount awarded.
The tribunal advised that the amount awarded was so substantial as Dr R was in the early stages of her career and she would have continued working for many years.
The local NHS Trust and three individuals from the trust were made jointly liable for the award - Dr R’s former head of department, the trust's former medical director and interim chief executive and the director of human resources.
Practices should note that this level of award is extremely rare as courts and tribunals are keen to limit compensation for future loss and it is extremely rare for a panel to decide that a claimant will never be able to work again.