Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 10 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:S3a-7113

One possible course of action for doctors discriminated against on grounds of sex, race, or disability is to seek legal redress through an industrial tribunal. Two recent articles in the employment law journal IDS Brief (Aug 1997:595:7-10, Sep 1997:595:7-11) review the principles on which damages are awarded. The potential compensation is now infinite, and is calculated partly on the basis of evidence of past and future lost earnings, and partly on injury to feelings. Aggravated damages-if the discrimination involves humiliation, ostracism, ridicule, or contempt-may also be awarded, but exemplary damages-designed to punish the discriminators-may not. As recently as 1988, awards for discrimination were capped to a total of £7500, which taken together with a not altogether irrational fear that recourse to the law will have a reputation damaging effect, has probably dissuaded many doctors from seeking to redress the institutional racism of the NHS.

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