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How are damages really calculated?

By June 8, 2016January 29th, 2021Employment for Business

Ex-Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro settles constructive dismissal claim

We will probably never know whether Eva Carneiro’s recent settlement terms with Chelsea Football Club and Jose Mourinho managed to “beat” the original offer of £1.2m made by the club. But how could such a figure be achieved at all?It is understood that Ms Carniero earned around £280,000pa in her role as Chelsea first team doctor. If she succeeded with her constructive dismissal claim therefore, the most she could have been awarded is around £78,000 plus a few “add ons” to reflect her previous service.This means the lion’s share of any award would arise from her discrimination complaint which the club alleged was a tactical ploy engineered to remove the cap on damages that applied to her constructive dismissal claim.The largest element would have related to loss of earnings. It is understood that Ms Carniero was pursuing a substantial future loss of earnings claim over a number of years which is probably not unrealistic given that she was at one of European football’s leading clubs putting her income in one of the higher tiers for first team doctors. Furthermore, it is not unrealistic to assume that this type of role at a leading club does not become available every day. A sum equivalent to £750,000 is perhaps not too unrealistic.Then there is the award for injury to feelings. It is fairly clear that Ms Carniero suffered quite a public humiliation judging from Mourinho’s reaction on the day in question and the failure of Chelsea to support her decision to enter the pitch to provide care to one of its players. There are 3 bands of award depending upon the severity of an individual’s treatment the most serious band providing for damages of between £19,800 to £33,000 which is likely to be the band Ms Carniero’s legal team were arguing she should be placed in.There is also the possibility of recovering damages for personal injury if Ms Carniero was able to demonstrate she had suffered some sort of (presumably mental) impairment as a result of the club and Mourinho’s conduct. Examples of health concerns in a case such as this could include, anxiety, stress, psychosomatic disorders, poor memory loss, poor concentration and so on. It is impossible to put a figure on this without knowing the facts but serious cases have resulted in awards in excess of £50,000 although this would undoubtedly be at the high end of the scale.Last but not least there are “aggravated damages” which can be awarded where an employer is found to have acted in a “high-handed, malicious insulting or oppressive manner” The subsequent criticism of Ms Carniero and reference to her being “naive” may have triggered this type of award.Given the above it is easy to see how a figure of £1.2m can easily be reached albeit largely due to the level of Ms Carniero’s remuneration package with the club and the quite unusual circumstances of the case namely the niche nature of her role and the public way in which the dispute arose and was subsequently played out in the media.Interestingly, perhaps the most important aspect of the settlement which we are privy to and which you can’t put a price on is the agreed announcement made by the club. Ms Carniero has had to endure much (often negative) speculation over the last several months causing damage to her integrity and professional reputation. The announcement made by the club effectively cuts through all of this and endorses her actions on the day in question and makes her a much more attractive prospect as an employee given that the general consensus now is that she was brave enough to take a stand and defend herself against unfair criticism which was ultimately proven to be justified, unless of course she didn’t beat that offer……..

Russell Brown

Author Russell Brown

Russell is a Partner and Head of Glaisyers' Employment Team.

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