A recent tribunal heard how years of systematic harassment of a doctor caused severe stress followed by depression. Although claiming unfair dismissal together with sexual and racial discrimination the case was exacerbated by the severe illness it caused. This was so severe that a clinical psychologist examining her concluded ”
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Her Insomnia, nightmares and panic attacks in which she relives the events with the Trust,” caused “repeated intrusive thoughts, persistent anxiety and psychosomatic symptoms. The illness“ was found by the court to be caused by “her experiences at the hands of her employer.
The tribunal was “outraged” at the way the employer behaved. It held the Trust and three senior managers ‘jointly and severally liable’ for the payment and ordered them to pay the consultant £4,452,206 as compensation. This sum included payments for psychological injury ,loss of pension rights and a supplement to cover the complainant’s tax liabilities.
This is a very sad and distressing case, particularly given the devastating impact on Dr Michalak and her family. From an employers’ perspective, the message is clear: damages awards in millions can happen even when an organisation believes they can’t. Good quality information is vital in the battle to ensure that procedures and policies are being followed at the local level. Good information would enable early intervention to have prevented this situation deteriorating in such a catastrophic manner for both the individual and the organisation involved.