What are Eva Carneiro’s chances of making a successful claim against Chelsea F.C.?

Eva Carneiro has submitted a tribunal claim against Chelsea F.C. for constructive dismissal.  Carneiro was dropped from match-side duties after being criticised by the Chelsea manager, Mourinho, for going onto the pitch to assist Eden Hazard during a match in August. She subsequently left the club.  In light of Carneiro’s claim against Chelsea F.C. for constructive dismissal it is a good idea to remind ourselves what constructive dismissal is.

Constructive dismissal occurs where an employer commits a serious breach entitling the employee to resign in response to their employer's conduct.  The employee is entitled to treat themselves as dismissed, even though they resigned. The three elements of a constructive dismissal are:
1.      A breach by the employer

The breach needs to be fundamental – i.e. one that goes to the root of the employment contract. Examples of a fundamental breach include significantly varying an employee’s contract without their consent and not treating an employee in a reasonable manner as part of the employer’s duty to preserve the relationship of mutual trust and confidence.

2.      The employee must resign in response to the breach

The breach could be one standalone act or a series of acts such that the last act is the “last straw”, justifying the employee’s resignation.

3.      The employee must not wait too long after the breach to resign

The employee needs to show that they have resigned in response to the employer's breach.  If there is a lengthy period between the breach and the resignation, this can be harder to establish. A short delay between the breach and resignation does not necessarily indicate that the employee accepts the breach. However if the delay is prolonged it can be evidence that the employee has accepted the breach and therefore a claim for constructive dismissal cannot be made.

Although we do not have specific details of Carneiro’s claim, it has been reported that Mourinho accused Carneiro of being “impulsive and naïve” and that she failed to “understand the game” when she went on to the pitch to treat the injured player. It may be that Carneiro intends to argue that she resigned from her job after being reprimanded by her immediate superior and that Mourinho’s behaviour together with her withdrawal from match-side duties constituted a breach of trust and confidence that went to the root of her contract.
It will be interesting to see how this claim unfolds in the coming weeks.

Emma Clements