Discrimination Advice for Employees
Employment law provides protection from discrimination at work. If you would like advice on how to pursue a discrimination complaint, whatever your seniority, the size of your employer and whichever sector you work in, we can help.
What is discrimination at work?
Discrimination in an employment context specifically relates to unfair treatment because of one of the following ‘protected characteristics’ set out in the Equality Act 2010 (EQA 2010):
- Gender reassignment
- Marriage and civil partnership
- Pregnancy and maternity
- Religion and belief
- Sexual orientation
Unfair treatment which does not relate to the above cannot be correctly called ‘discrimination’ or ‘harassment’ in employment terms. This does not mean that you will not have potential claims if you are suffering from bullying, a toxic working environment or role erosion amongst other things, but if this is not because of one of the above characteristics it will not be discrimination and legal advice should be taken on what other potential claims you might have.
In some cases, it will be clear that there has been discrimination by an employer, for example if you are told you are fired for maternity leave being taken, this is direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination. However, it can sometimes be difficult to assess whether discrimination has taken place, for example, if you have been fired for having cancer, or fired for mental health issues, you may want to take advice as to whether you would qualify as disabled. Disability discrimination claims at work can be particularly technical and so early specialist employment advice is recommended.
There are different types of discrimination:
- direct discrimination where you are clearly treated worse because of a protected characteristic, for example age discrimination claims where employees are told to retire at a certain age without an objective justification for this.
- indirect discrimination where you are treated the same but the effect of this is that because of a protected characteristic this places you at a disadvantage.
- Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination, where unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic makes your working environment intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. Harassment can be physical or non-physical.
- Victimisation is if you have been treated negatively because you have done a protected act, like complaining about discrimination, assisting someone else with a discrimination claim or alleging that your employer has breached the EQA 2010.
If you have suffered from direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and/or victimisation we can help you pursue your complaint and receive appropriate compensation.
How can we help you with a discrimination complaint?
The first point to make is that there is a three-month minus one day time limit from the date of the discrimination complained of, to bring an Employment Tribunal Claim. Therefore, seeking advice or making an ACAS Early Conciliation notification quickly (which in most cases must be done before an Employment Tribunal Claim can be brought) is critical. If the three-month limitation period passes there is very little room to validly bring a discrimination claim.
If you would like support and advice relating to discrimination at work, which we understand can be a daunting and deeply personal thing to discuss and make a complaint about, we can help with the following:
- Supporting with an informal grievance or with the formal grievance process, including drafting grievance and grievance appeal letters for you to send to your employer.
- Reviewing your case and advising you on whether you have a discrimination claim and any other claims. We can then discuss your options with you, so that you can make an informed choice on what to do next.
- Negotiating a settlement agreement with your employer on your behalf or assisting in completing this with you if you have already been offered and agree to the terms of a settlement agreement.
- Drafting a notification to ACAS that you intend to bring an employment claim, starting the ACAS Early Conciliation process for a discrimination claim and any other claims you may have, such as for constructive unfair dismissal or unfair dismissal.
- Issuing proceedings and representing you in the Employment Tribunals or Courts against your employer and/or named individuals who have discriminated against you.
If you would like to discuss your treatment at work and take advice on discrimination and any other employment claims, we can review your evidence with you and discuss what action you can take, whether this is raising a grievance, negotiating a settlement agreement on your behalf, issuing an Employment Tribunal Claim or all of these. Taking prompt specialist employment advice if you have suffered discrimination at work is crucial to the success of a discrimination Claim or negotiating a settlement agreement successfully.
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