Making a Discrimination Claim Against Your Employer

Author:
David Hession
Employment Law Associate Solicitor
Date:
08/03/2019

Before making a discrimination claim against your employer, you need to know whether or not you have a case. This can be difficult to assess as it will depend on the facts of each individual’s situation. Employment Tribunals can have a wide discretion and it’s often very difficult to predict what decision they may take on the day.

There are some points that you should consider before making a claim:

      • Under the Equality Act 2010, the potential act of discrimination would have to be based on a protected characteristic, such as race, age and gender;
      • Equality legislation is quite broad in terms of who it covers. Not only does it cover employees, it also applies to workers; and
      • Unlike unfair dismissal claims, you can accrue discrimination rights from day one. Unfair dismissal claims generally require an employee to have two years’ continuous service.

For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Employment Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Direct and Indirect Discrimination

Discrimination at work can take a direct form. A very obvious example here could cover unfavourable comments made by a manager towards an employee based on their disability.

Indirect discrimination occurs when an employer applies a similar set of rules to its workforce but this nevertheless has a detrimental impact on a particular category of worker. For instance, an employer may implement a policy which forbids employees from wearing any headwear, which could lead to a Muslim worker claiming that they’ve been indirectly discriminated against.

Where a worker is suffering from a condition that amounts to a disability, employers are obliged to put reasonable adjustments in place. This could apply where you’re no longer able to carry out your role. A reasonable adjustment in this place could involve your employer offering you a suitable alternative role.

How Much Compensation Could I Get?

There are two types of compensation award that you could recover if your discrimination claim is successful:

      • An injury to feelings award – this operates on a band system depending on how serious the act of discrimination is. This is commonly referred to as the Vento band. The current bands for claims presented on or after 06th April 2018 are:

- A lower band of £900 to £8,600 in less serious cases;

- A middle band of £8,600 to £25,700 in those cases that fall between the upper and lower bands; and

- An upper band of £25,700 to £42,900 in the most serious cases.

          • Where an act of discrimination has resulted in your dismissal from work, you could also be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings. Unlike an unfair dismissal claim, the level of compensation is not capped.

Alternatives to Issuing a Discrimination Claim

If you feel as though you’ve been discriminated against by your employer, you may wish to consider pursuing the matter internally. Typically, this would involve issuing a grievance against your employer, who should already have an internal grievance policy.

It’s also worth noting that before issuing a claim, you’re required to contact ACAS to go through a process known as early conciliation. This requires you to provide ACAS with both yours and your employer’s details. This can lead to ACAS then contacting your employer to see whether there is any scope to settle your dispute.

Settlement Agreements

An employment dispute can settle at any stage, either whilst you are working for your employer or once you’ve issued a claim. If you feel your employer has discriminated against you, then it can be open for either side to put forward settlement terms.

If a financial settlement package is agreed, then your employer is likely to ask you to sign off on a Settlement Agreement. This agreement will prevent you from issuing any claims against your employer under a financial settlement.

Legal Funding

There are a number of options that we can explore with you, such as:

        • Hourly rates including discounted rates the first hour of work that we undertake
        • Legal Expense Insurance - you may wish to check the terms of your home insurance. Depending on your policy, this could provide for legal funding in the event of an employment dispute; and
        • Employer contributions – if you are asked to sign up to a Settlement Agreement, it’s standard for an employer to offer a contribution towards the cost of legal fees.

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