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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

If your discrimination happened at work, you may be able to take your case to an employment tribunal. 

However, new laws that came into force in October 2017 say that you and your employer must follow a set grievance procedure before you can take your case to a tribunal. This means that you must send your employer a grievance, which is a letter saying why you believe you were discriminated against. You must normally do this within three months of the event you are complaining about. This 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 send your written grievance:

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

Your employer must then invite you to a meeting to discuss your grievance. After the meeting, your employer must tell you what they will do about your complaint. They must also tell you how you can appeal their decision if you do not agree with it.

Once you have put in your grievance you must wait 28 days before you can lodge a claim with a tribunal. This time limit applies whether or not your employer has responded to your grievance.

The new grievance procedures are law and must be followed completely, except in a few specific situations. For example, the new procedures do not apply if:

  • your complaint is about less favorable treatment under the Part-Time Workers Regulations and the Fixed-Term Employee Regulations (see ‘Part-time’ work);
  • you are not an ‘employee’ of the organisation you have been working for, because you are, for example, self employed; or
  • your employer has dismissed or is considering dismissing you.

If you have already left your job, you and your employer can agree to deal with your grievance only through letters, without having a meeting. But your employer cannot make you agree to this.

If the dispute reaches an employment tribunal and the tribunal finds that you have not followed the grievance procedure in full, it may reduce any compensation it awards you. You should seek advice if you are unsure about how these new rules apply in your case.

If your employer wants to discipline or dismiss you, they must first follow a set disciplinary procedure. If they dismiss you without following the procedure properly, the employment tribunal may judge your dismissal as automatically unfair, and award you at least four weeks’ pay.

For more information about your rights if you are dismissed or facing redundancy, see the CLS Direct leaflet, ‘Employment’.

10. Going to an employment tribunal

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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