6 March 2015 4 min read

Chelsea FC haven’t quite had the quality opening to the premier league season that the blues fans would be accustomed to. But the premier league title isn’t the only thing Chelsea will be defending as manager Jose Mourinho’s treatment of First Team Doctor Eva Carneiro sees them face a constructive dismissal claim. 

Medical History

Swansea City visited Stamford Bridge in early August this year in what played out as a tense affair. In the dying minutes, Dr Eva Carneiro entered the field of play to treat Eden Hazard, who consequently had to leave the pitch leaving only nine Chelsea players to see out the closing moments (having already had a player red carded for an earlier indiscretion).

Despite her sterling reputation and career, and being waved onto the playing enclosure by the referee, Jose Mourinho directed a fair amount of post-match frustration towards Carneiro who was then banned from the match day bench and limited in her duties as first team doctor. As well as complaining to the FA about discriminatory comments made towards her, Carneiro, who has left the Blues, will be filing for constructive dismissal.

Doctor! Doctor! I think I’ve been unfairly dismissed…

So what exactly is constructive dismissal? Much like Carneiro, in certain instances an employer’s conduct might leave an employee believing there are no other options than to resign and then claim constructive dismissal.

In these cases, the employer’s conduct must be serious enough to amount to a fundamental breach of contract, so using the last tea bag in the office kitchen might not break the threshold but sudden demotion or cut of pay without explanation could. Any such breaches, of either an implied or an express contractual term, must be actioned upon quickly and the outgoing employee must also be able to prove their resignation was not the result of other factors such as being offered a higher salary elsewhere but a direct result of the employer’s conduct.

Dr Carneiro’s diagnosis

Although not having her complaint held up by the Football Association over Mourinho’s use of discriminatory language towards her, Carneiro can still get her own back through an employment tribunal.

Carneiro must prove that Chelsea’s actions have fundamentally breached the terms of her employment. As we do not know the content of Carneiro’s contract, we can only speculate whether being limited in her duties and based solely at Chelsea’s training ground would be breaching an express term. However, she may also be able to argue that such a demotion, and the proceeding public outing by Mourinho, irreparably damaged the relationship of trust and confidence between her and her employer. Either way, Chelsea’s poor form on the pitch may not be the only thing going against Mourinho in the next few weeks.

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The contents of this article are intended solely for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or financial advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.

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Jonathan Craddock

Jonathan graduated in LLB law from the University of the West of England in 2012. He then completed the Legal Practice Course in 2013 before working with some of Southampton’s top law firms.

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