Eva Carneiro’s case for constructive dismissal against Chelsea got underway on Wednesday as she appeared at a preliminary hearing at the London South Employment Tribunal.
The 42-year-old was dropped as first-team doctor by the Premier League champions following a row with then manager Jose Mourinho during the season-opening draw with Swansea at Stamford Bridge.
The flashpoint occurred after Carneiro and physiotherapist Jon Fearn – also subsequently withdrawn from first-team affairs – entered the field to treat Eden Hazard, with Mourinho displeased that his team would momentarily be reduced to nine men following Thibaut Courtois’ red card earlier in the second half.
Mourinho labelled Carneiro and Fearn “naive and impulsive” and the former did not appear on the bench in subsequent games before leaving the club.
The Portuguese was cleared of using discriminatory language towards Carneiro by the Football Association but still faces a personal legal claim for alleged victimisation and discrimination lodged by the medic.
Wednesday’s hearing will determine a timetable for the constructive dismissal case likely to be heard in full in June.
Mourinho and Chelsea’s handling of the affair has drawn widespread criticism with Football Association (FA) board member Heather Rabbatts outlining her “sadness and anger” at Carneiro’s departure.
Rabbatts, the chair of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board, said in September: “News of Dr Eva Carneiro’s departure from Chelsea FC makes me feel sadness and anger.
“Eva was one of the few very senior women in the game, a highly respected doctor who has acted with professional integrity in difficult circumstances and whose skills have been highly praised by her colleagues, the club and governing bodies.
“On August 8, Eva fulfilled her duty as the senior medic and responded to the referee to enter the field of play to treat a player. Any other response would have been a dereliction of her duty and a breach of GMC [General Medical Council] guidelines as confirmed recently by the organisation of Premier League doctors.
“In acting properly she was then subject to verbal abuse and public criticism and in effect demoted by her removal from the bench.”
Former Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit went further, branding Mourinho’s public criticism as “degrading” and “insulting”.
“I didn’t like what happened with Eva Carneiro,” Petit told Omnisport.
“If that had happened privately, if it’d been leaked or whatever, I would have accepted it. But it was public, everyone saw it, he didn’t hide to insult her.
“It was degrading, insulting, and I can understand that she didn’t want to go back to work [at Chelsea].”