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15 Equal Opportunities

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1. Introduction

2. When discrimination can happen

3. Types of discrimination

4. Sex discrimination

5. Transgender people

6. Discrimination because you are gay or lesbian

7. Discrimination because of your religion or beliefs

8. What you can do about discrimination

9. Dealing with discrimination at work

10. Going to an employment tribunal

You can take your case to an employment tribunal if:

  • your employer hasn’t followed the grievance or disciplinary procedure properly;
  • you have been through the grievance or disciplinary procedure but are unhappy with the result; or
  • the grievance or disciplinary procedure does not apply to your case.

In all these cases, you must also have put in your grievance to your employer at least 28 days ago.

The cost of going to a tribunal can be low. Even if you lose your case, you will not have to pay your employer’s costs unless the tribunal decides you were being unreasonable in bringing the claim.

You bring a tribunal claim by filling in an application form, called an ET1. You can get this from your local Jobcentre Plus, Citizens Advice Bureau, the Equal Opportunities Commission or online from the Employment Tribunal Service (see ‘Further help’ for details).

You must normally make a claim to an employment tribunal within three months minus one day from when you first knew about the discrimination. However, if the discrimination is ongoing, this time limit may not apply. The time limit does not apply if you are complaining because you believe you are not receiving the same pay as other workers. In this case you can make a claim to the tribunal:

  • at any time while you are still working for your employer; or
  • within six months minus one day of when you stopped working for them.

If you are going through the grievance or disciplinary procedure, you have an extra three months to bring your claim, as long as:

  • you have sent your grievance to your employer within the right time limit; or
  • the dismissal or disciplinary procedure is ongoing, or you have a good reason to believe it is ongoing.

Using the questionnaire procedure

If you want to make a claim to an employment tribunal, you normally send a special form, called a questionnaire, to your employer. You can get this form from:

  • a Jobcentre Plus; or
  • the Equal Opportunities Commission, if your claim is about sex discrimination or equal pay.

In this form, you can ask your employer for more information about your treatment. For example, if you believe that you didn’t get a job because of your sex, you can ask for details of:

  • your employer’s selection procedures; and
  • the qualifications and experience of the person who got the job, to see how they compare with your own.

If you believe you may not be receiving equal pay, this form will also help you find out whether this is the case and if so, why.

You must send the form to the employer :

  • within three months of when the discrimination happened.
  • within 21 days of the employment tribunal receiving your complaint.

You don’t have to use the questionnaire procedure, but it will normally help your case. In the same way, the employer doesn’t legally have to fill in the form, but if they don’t, it may harm their case. And if you do use it, you can still choose to withdraw your complaint before your case is dealt with by the tribunal.

How compensation is worked out

If the tribunal rules that you, have been unlawfully discriminated against, it can award you compensation for:

  • loss of earnings (including money you would have earned if you had not been discriminated against);
  • injury to your feelings;
  • personal injury, if it was caused by discrimination.

If you are unhappy with the tribunal’s decision

If you or your employer, are unhappy about how the tribunal reached its decision, you may be able to appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal. But you can appeal only on whether the law was applied correctly, not on whether you thought the tribunal’s decision was fair. You have 42 days after the decision to lodge an appeal.

11. Dealing with other types of discrimination

12. The Human Rights Act

13. Discrimination because of your age

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet

Equal Opportunities - Albanian

Equal Opportunities - Arabic

Equal Opportunities - Bengali

Equal Opportunities - Chinese

Equal Opportunities - Farsi

Equal Opportunities - French

Equal Opportunities - Gujarati

Equal Opportunities - Portuguese

Equal Opportunities - Somali

Equal Opportunities - Spanish

Equal Opportunities - Urdu

Equal Opportunities - Turkish

This leaflet was published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Sara Leslie

Leaflet Version:  December 2019


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