Chelsea could face claim from club doctor Eva Carneiro
Chelsea doctor Eva Carneiro could have grounds to launch claims of constructive dismissal and sex discrimination if her role is changed as a result of criticism from manager Jose Mourinho.
That is the view of lawyer Glenn Hayes as the fall-out from Mourinho's weekend outburst following his side's 2-2 draw with Swansea continues.
The Portuguese was furious after first-team doctor Carneiro went on to the pitch at Stamford Bridge to treat Eden Hazard, in the process momentarily reducing the 10-man Blues to nine players, later describing the actions of medical staff as "impulsive and naive" and suggesting they needed to "understand the game".
It is understood that Carneiro is to retain her current job title, but will no longer be involved in matches or training sessions, and if that proves to be the case, Mr Hayes, a partner and employment law specialist with solicitors Irwin Mitchell, believes she could have grounds to take legal action.
He said: "It's not entirely clear, the reasons Mourinho said what he has said, but if he said that based on the fact she's a woman and not a man and she feels uncomfortable because of that - and I can see why that potentially could be the case - then effectively she could bring a claim against both Mourinho and the club.
What we do know from previous cases however, is that football tends to exist in a vacuum when it comes to employment issues and it is safe to say, from reports, that if this situation emerged in another sector, there could be implications for those involved.
"For example, as it could be argued that speaking out about her publicly has damaged the implied duty of trust and confidence between the parties, there could potentially be a claim for constructive unfair dismissal."
Mourinho is expected to face questions on the Carneiro situation for the first time at today's lunchtime press conference ahead of Sunday's trip to Manchester City.
Mr Hayes said Chelsea could also justify taking action against their employee, including demotion, if they were able to show she had ignored instructions.
He said: "If there's a management instruction - and I suppose in theory in the context of that game, Mourinho is her manager - and he says to her, 'Don't go on' and she ignores it, then in theory, it's gross misconduct because a refusal to obey a reasonable management instruction is gross misconduct in most people's disciplinary policies.
"The difficulty in the situation in relation to her is, is it a reasonable management instruction, because obviously she owes professional obligations as part of her medical expertise to look after the players, so they may well override what may well otherwise be a reasonable instruction."