"Managing People with Morecrofts"

Eva Carneiro – Why can the former Chelsea doctor bring legal action against Chelsea FC?

by Thomas Sutherland

I’ve read a lot recently about the former Chelsea doctor, Eva Carneiro’s, employment law claim against Chelsea FC.  In fact, I’ve been contacted by multiple friends asking me how she can claim Unfair Dismissal when she resigned rather than being dismissed by Chelsea.

Well, that’s the point of what Employment lawyers call Constructive Dismissal.  A Constructive Dismissal is a situation in which the employee feels like they have been left with no option but to leave.  This would be due to a breach of the employment contract by the employer, which can include changing the nature of the employment or creating a situation in which the employee loses all reasonable trust in the employer.

For those that are unaware, the chain of events which led to Eva Carneiro’s claim started with the Chelsea v Swansea game earlier this season.  Following the sending off of one of their players, Chelsea suffered another apparent blow when their star player, Eden Hazard, went down injured.  

Due to his concern, the referee called Eva Carneiro and the head physio, Jon Fearn, onto the pitch to provide medical attention to Eden Hazard.  

Unfortunately, Jose Mourinho became very angry at their decision to do so because, according to current rules, any player who receives medical treatment must leave the pitch rather than play on.  This left Chelsea with nine men for a period of time and left them exposed to the Swansea attack.  

After the game, Jose Mourinho described Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn as ‘impulsive and naïve’ in the media.  Eva Carneiro also alleges that, due to the events of that match, Jose Mourinho was instrumental in demoting her from first-team duties in the preceding matches.  Indeed, she never appeared on the bench again.

The actions of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn have been backed by medical organisations who have pointed out that both individuals had a professional duty of care to treat Eden Hazard once invited to do so by the referee.  Indeed, their job description may include the duty of providing medical attention and support to the players where required.

Therefore, it appears that Eva Carneiro is alleging that she suffered detriment for simply doing her job and treating a player who appeared to be injured.  

It is also reported that Eva Carneiro is bringing a discrimination claim against Jose Mourinho for differential treatment on the ground of her gender in comparison to Jon Fearn.  This is a prime example of a situation in which an employee can bring legal action against a fellow employee.

Whilst we cannot comment on the potential merits of her case before it has been determined at tribunal, it is important to remember that there are situations in which an employee can claim even where it is they who have ended the contract of employment.

Find out more about Thomas Sutherland here