HM Insights

What's Jose's problem? Discrimination claims against individuals

Many people will recall the controversy in August of this year, when Jose Mourinho, manager of Chelsea Football Club, was less than happy when Eva Carneiro, a club doctor, and Jon Fearn, head physiotherapist, treated a player on the pitch. This resulted in Chelsea being temporarily reduced to nine men and Carneiro and Fearn incurred Mourinho’s ire.

Football Discrimination Employment Tribunal

Carneiro then did not appear again on the bench on match days, as she had done previously. This has, allegedly, led to her resignation and a claim for constructive dismissal against the club.

However, there has been another twist, in that it appears that Mourinho has, or will have, had a claim raised against him. This is not possible in a straightforward constructive dismissal claim as an employer is vicariously liable for the actions of its employees and the claim is solely against the former employer.

Whilst we do not know the details of the alleged actions, if such a claim has been raised, it must be in relation to allegations of discrimination. Under the Equality Act 2010, an individual can be named as a respondent in addition to an employer. This is, in practice, rarely done for a number of reasons. The primary reasons are often lack of awareness of this right, and secondly, money – it is much more likely, generally, that a company will be able to pay an award, particularly a large award, than an individual. Admittedly, this is not a concern if raising a claim against the millionaire Chelsea manager.

It should be noted that Mourinho has been cleared by the Football Association in relation to the making of discriminatory comments, albeit that this will not be determinative in any employment tribunal.

Despite this, by raising a claim such as this Carneiro will not only create a lot of publicity, but also oblige Mourinho to attend employment tribunal hearings unless a settlement can be reached. Which could, of course, become more likely due to Mourinho’s involvement.

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If you would like advice on any aspect of the issues raised, please contact a member of our employment team or find out more on our employment law page.