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What you can do about discrimination at work


There are a few options for resolution where you believe that you are the target of workplace discrimination. You can raise a grievance, submit an application with ACAS for Conciliation or mediation, and you can also file a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

Raise a Grievance

You can complain informally to your employer or raise a formal grievance. The point of doing this is to make your employer aware of the discrimination, so that they can investigate and put a stop to it.  Raising a formal grievance is very important because if you end up going to the Employment Tribunal, the tribunal may reduce your compensation if you didn’t raise a grievance first.

ACAS Questions and Answers

The questions procedure is a special way of getting information from your employer about discrimination you have suffered at work.  You can use the procedure before you file your claim in the Employment Tribunal, or 28 days after you have filed your claim in the Employment Tribunal. You must submit a questionnaire within 3 months of the act of discrimination you are complaining of. It is very hard to win a discrimination claim if you don’t submit a questionnaire. The questionnaire is very important in gathering evidence to support your case. You can use it to collect information that cannot be found in any documents. [ see How to use the questions procedure for discrimination claims for templates and sample questions to help you in submitting your questions to your employer].

ACAS Early Conciliation 

ACAS early conciliation is compulsory before bringing an employment tribunal claim against any employer. ACAS Conciliation is free and can help you get clarity on your options, or settlement so that you can leave work if that is what you want. ACAS has a duty to conciliate in an attempt to reach an agreement between you and your employer before it goes to the Employment Tribunal for a hearing.

The time limit for filing your claim is paused whilst the conciliation process is going on. If the ACAS Conciliator decides that conciliation is impossible, or the problem is not resolved (settled) within one month, a Conciliation Certificate will be issued and your claim can proceed to the Employment Tribunal. You will need to show the Conciliation Certificate for your claim to proceed in the tribunal.

You can also voluntarily use the conciliation process for a serious problem that you can’t resolve through the grievance process. You don’t necessarily have to file a claim in the employment tribunal.

ACAS Mediation/Private Mediation 

Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential form of alternative dispute resolution, and can help you get clarity on your options, or settlement so that you can leave work if that is what you want. It involves an independent, impartial person (the Mediator) helping two or more individuals or groups reach a solution that’s acceptable to everyone. The mediator can talk to both sides separately or together. Mediators do not make judgments or determine outcomes. The Mediator will ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist you to understand the issues and help clarify the options for resolving your differences.

The Employment Tribunal

You can make a discrimination claim in the Employment Tribunal. The Employment tribunal will award compensation if you are successful. There is no limit on the amount of compensation you can get for a discrimination claim. You don’t need to have worked for two years with your employer in order to make a discrimination claim. The Employment Tribunals are an independent judicial body established to resolve disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. The tribunal will hear claims about employment matters such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, wages and redundancy payments. You make your tribunal claim on a special form known as the ET1. Your employer replies to your claim on a form called the ET3. The Employment tribunals can make recommendations that an employer takes steps to eliminate or reduce the effect of discrimination on other employees. Under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, the tribunal can also instruct an employer to carry out an equal pay audit if they lose an equal pay claim.

[see How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a direct discrimination claim, How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a victimisation claim, How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a harassment claim, How to prepare a Scott Schedule for a sexual harassment claim, How to ask questions about discrimination at work, How to write a grievance about discrimination]

Updated: 15/03/2020

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