A tribunal ruled that Dr Michalak was unfairly dismissed by her employer (an NHS Trust). Before this ruling, the trust had referred the employee to the General Medical Council (GMC) under ‘fitness to practice’ proceedings.

Dr Michalak then brought a claim against the GMC on the grounds of discrimination, which eventually reached the Supreme Court.

 Although employment tribunals can consider complaints relating to an employee’s work under the Equality Act 2010, this ability does not extend to qualification bodies where, due to other legislation, " their decision is subject to an appeal process.

The Supreme Court (in Michalak v GMC) found that an employment tribunal did have jurisdiction to consider an employee’s discrimination complaints against a qualification body, An appeal allows for a court to review a decision, and reach its own verdict instead of the original decision. Judicial review, on the other hand, only gives a court the opportunity to rule on the legality of the decision.

This case is likely to be of concern to regulatory and qualifications bodies. Members wishing to bring discrimination claims against their regulators can now bring these through an employment tribunal, even where judicial review is available (unless the body in question has a statutory appeal process). Given that the total number of doctors on the GMC’s list of registered medical practitioners is in excess of 280,000, the GMC, and other professional and regulatory bodies, may see an increase in discrimination claims.

For more information, please contact Nia Cooper

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