Why would Eva Carneiro take the “Special One” to court rather than Chelsea?

Jose MourinhoWith reports that Eva Carneiro has initiated separate legal actions against both Chelsea and Jose Mourinho relating to her departure from the Premiership football club, why would an individual take an individual to court rather than an employer?

For discrimination cases an individual may bring a claim against any legal personality or personalities who may be directly liable or vicariously liable for the illegal behaviour.  With discrimination including a range of proscribed behaviours covered by the Equality Act the potential risk is much greater than the dictionary definition aligned direct discrimination. Under the Equality Act, discrimination includes behaviours such as harassment or victimisation.

With the Carneiro action, it has been reported that separate but connected claims have been made, with a claim of constructive unfair dismissal being made against the employing club and a discrimination claim against Mourinho.  Although the reasons for Carneiro strategy are unknown and it is far more common that employment tribunal claims for discrimination are made against the employing entity, as they are normally financially better placed in relation to any potential award that may be made, where an individual is independently wealthy this reason may matter less, and factors such publicity and reputational risk may become more relevant.

Making a claim against an individual and thereby forcing an individual to defend a claim may also be a valid reason especially where an individual’s performance in court could impact favourably with the court when weighing up the balance of probabilities.  It is also worth considering the difficulty when dealing with the potential for individual discrimination claims in relation to client interactions or third party relationships.

Where a company or partnership is in financial difficulties or has ceased trading the ability to take legal action against a named individual for discrimination could also be a viable option for a claimant.   Ultimately individuals cannot hide behind corporate identities where there has been discrimination and the need for good diversity awareness, training and practices remains paramount.

Jim Taylor LLM

The opinion given in this article is for general information only and is intended to illustrate and highlight themes which may affect employers and their employees. It should not be taken as specific advice on any situation or the appropriate course of action for any particular company or employer. Should you wish to discuss a similar situation or any other matter please contact Ascent HR Limited. ©Ascent HR Limited.

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