Discrimination at work

Explains what laws protect you from discrimination at work, what you can do if you are discriminated against, and where you can get support and advice. Applies to England and Wales.

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How can I make a complaint about discrimination at work?

If you think you have experienced disability discrimination at work, there are a number of things you can do. What is best for you will depend on exactly what has happened, but generally it is best to try to sort it out informally if you can.

Raise the issues informally

You could start by speaking to your colleagues, manager or HR department. The aim is to resolve your problem without having to follow a formal process, as this will be more relaxed and also helps to keep good working relationships.

If you don’t get the result you’re looking for by talking, you can consider the next two options.

Formal grievance procedures

Your employer may already have formal grievance procedures in place for exactly this kind of situation. 

If you want to do this, you should:

  • write down what the problems are that you are experiencing, how it makes you feel and suggestions as to how your employer can support you
  • have a supporting letter from your GP or any health or social care professional helping you
  • ask for a written reply after you have spoken or written to your employer. Always keep a copy of any letter you write or any reply.

You have the right to take a work colleague or trade union representative to any grievance hearing.

If you can, it is a good idea to get legal advice from a union or specialist legal adviser before you do this. It is very likely that you would have to pay for specialist legal advice.

Complain to an Employment Tribunal

If you cannot sort your problems informally or by raising a grievance, then you may want to consider complaining to the Employment Tribunal.

How to complain to an Employment Tribunal

1. Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) as soon as possible (see their contact details here). You’ll be offered the chance to try and settle the dispute without going to court by using ACAS’s free ‘Early Conciliation’ service.

2. If you do not settle your dispute, complete the ET1 form. You can download this from the Gov.uk website.

If you want to do this, you should:

  • Seek advice. It is always important to get good legal advice about your situation before going to court. See Useful contacts for information on how to find legal help. If early conciliation doesn’t work, ACAS will send you an early conciliation certificate – use this when you make a claim to the tribunal. Once you receive your certificate, you’ll have the same amount of time to make your claim as you did before you started conciliation.
  • Make sure you complain within 3 months (less 1 day) of the discrimination. There are very strict deadlines for bringing a claim. It is very important that you get advice as soon as possible. Time you spend in early conciliation doesn’t count towards the 3 months you have to make a claim. If early conciliation doesn’t work, ACAS will send you an early conciliation certificate – use this when you make a claim to the tribunal. Once you receive your certificate, you’ll have the same amount of time to make your claim as you did before you started conciliation.
  • See if you can get support. Taking legal action can be complicated and stressful. If you want assistance and support, you could ask a friend or an advocate to help you. Read more about advocacy, and other ways you can get support and assistance, in Useful contacts.

If you are successful, the Tribunal has power to award you financial compensation (money) and/or make a recommendation (for example, recommending that your employer makes reasonable adjustments to help you at work).

Example

Helen’s employer discriminates against her. She knows the deadline for bringing a claim is 3 months away (minus 1 day). She considers what she wants to do for 1 month, then decides she wants to explore taking them to the employment tribunal. She contacts ACAS and spends 2 months in early conciliation. The early conciliation does not help to settle her dispute, so she decides to continue with her case.

By this point it’s been 3 months since the discrimination happened, but because the 2 months she spent in early conciliation doesn’t count, the deadline for bringing her claim is still 2 months away (minus 1 day).


 


This information was published in September 2017. We will revise it in 2018.


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