Discrimination compensation of over £4.5 million

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and three senior employees within the Trust have been ordered by a Tribunal to pay £4,452,206.60 in compensation to a Doctor following her successful claim for race and sex discrimination.  This is believed to be the largest discrimination award ordered by a Tribunal in the UK.

Dr Michalak worked as an obstetrician at Pontefract General Infirmary earning £88,000 per year.  The Tribunal heard evidence of how senior employees plotted to terminate Dr Michalak’s employment from when she was seven months pregnant.  Dr Michaalak was then subjected to false allegations regarding her performance at work, including an accusation of bullying junior doctors, resulting in a lengthy period of suspension before disciplinary proceedings were taken against her.

The Tribunal heard evidence that Dr Michalak’s colleagues referred to her Polish origin during telephone conversations and meetings, and that they questioned her competency as doctor given she trained in Poland.

Dr Michalak was eventually dismissed by the Trust in July 2008.  In their judgment, the Tribunal said that the disciplinary procedure in this case was “bogus” and Dr Michalak was dismissed for “no good or justifiable reason”.  The Tribunal labelled this a “concerted campaign” to bring Dr Michalak’s employment to an end and said they were “outraged” at the behaviour of senior employees within the Trust.

The Tribunal heard medical evidence during the hearing that Dr Michalak had suffered “chronic and disabling” post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, leading to an “enduring personality change”. Dr Michalak lost her role and status as a consultant in a hospital and would not be able to return to the profession again.

The award was made up of £1.1m for loss of past and future earnings, £660,000 for loss of pension, damages for injury to feelings and exemplary damages against the Trust. Julia Squire, Chief Executive at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, made a public apology to Dr Michalak.

The Backhouse Solicitors Team

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