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15 Equal Opportunities
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:
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:
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’.
Leaflet Version: December 2019
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