Tribunal awards hospital consultant Eva Michalak £4.5m


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Indy Lifestyle Online

A hospital consultant who lost her job after a campaign to get rid of her which began when she was pregnant has been awarded nearly £4.5 million compensation.

Dr Eva Michalak, 53, who worked as an obstetrician at Pontefract General Infirmary, won claims against her employer for sex and race discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The tribunal in Leeds heard that Dr Michalak, who is Polish, had been left unable to accomplish the simplest of tasks due to the stress caused by the five-year campaign against her.

The tribunal panel said it was "positively outraged" by the way staff at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust had behaved.

The Trust and three senior staff members have now been ordered to pay Dr Michalak £4,452,206.60 for the sex and race discrimination.

Of this sum, the doctor was awarded £30,000 for injury to feelings and £56,000 for psychiatric damage.

The tribunal earlier this year heard that senior staff members began a "plan" to get rid of Dr Michalak at a secret meeting in March 2003, when she was seven months pregnant.

She began to receive complaints and criticism against her, being accused of bullying junior doctors, until her suspension in January 2006.

She was then subjected to "a lengthy and wholly unauthorised period of suspension" before disciplinary proceedings began in May 2007, concluding in her dismissal in July 2008.

In their judgment, the tribunal panel wrote: "As a consequence of that dismissal the claimant has lost her role and status as a hospital consultant, as we will ultimately find, she is never going to return to work as a doctor, a profession which she, in common with both of her parents, cherished together with all the status that that brings with it."

The panel continued: "It is right that in this case we are positively outraged at the way this employer has behaved."

Medical experts had told the tribunal that Dr Michalak had suffered "chronic and disabling" post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, which had led to an "enduring personality change".

Her husband, Dr Julian DeHavilland, who was working as a research scientist in Leeds at the time, told the tribunal he was constantly worried about the safety of his wife and his son and had to give up his job to care for them.

In his witness statement to the tribunal, Dr DeHavilland said: "Eva became unable to accomplish even the simplest of tasks without oversight and supervision.

"Eva began to leave the cooker on, the iron on, to leave the house without locking the door, to go shopping and come back with the wrong items, to go to bed without turning everything off, and she became sensitive to strangers."

He continued: "Eva had not a hope in hell of coping with the Trust's process alone, and they knew that."