Your choices

There are three things you can do:

  • Complain informally to your employer.
  • Bring a grievance using your employer’s grievance procedures.
  • Make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

You do not have to choose only one of these. Instead, you could try them in turn. If you cannot get your employer to put things right, then you can make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Just be aware that if you do decide to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, you need to tell the tribunal about your claim (by filling in a form) within three months (less one day) of what happened.

You do not have to go first to your employer before making a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

But there are two reasons for doing this:

  • You should think carefully about whether making a claim to the Employment Tribunal is the right thing for you personally.

Making a claim may be demanding on your time and emotions, and before starting the process you may want to look at whether or not you have a good chance of succeeding. You may also want to see if there are better ways of sorting out your complaint.

  • If you do not use your employer’s procedures for solving a problem before you make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, and you win your case, the tribunal can reduce any money it tells your employer to pay you by up to a quarter if it thinks you acted unreasonably.

Do not forget – even if you try to sort the matter out with your employer first, whether formally or informally, you must keep to the tribunal time limits if you want to bring an Employment Tribunal case. In order to keep within the time limit, you may have to start a case before you have finished discussing the matter in any internal processes.

Was what happened against equality law?

Write down what happened as soon as you can after it happened, or tell someone else about it so they can write it down. Put in as much detail as you can about who was involved and what was said or done. Remember, the problem will sometimes be that something was not done.


For example:

If you are a disabled person and you asked for a reasonable adjustment which was not made.

If someone did not change a decision they had made or stop applying a rule or way of doing things and this had a worse impact on you and other people with the same protected characteristic (indirect discrimination).


Read the rest of this guide. Does what happened sound like any of the things we say a person or organisation must or must not do?

Sometimes it is difficult to work out if what happened is against equality law. You need to show that your protected characteristics played a part in what happened. The rest of this guide tells you more about what this means for the different types of unlawful discrimination or for harassment or victimisation.

If you think you need more information from the person or organisation before deciding what to do, then you can use the questions procedure, which we explain in The questions procedure.

Is your complaint about equality law or is it about another sort of problem at work?

This guide focuses on making a complaint about something that is against equality law. You may have a complaint (which is often called ‘bringing a grievance’) about something else at work, which is not related to a protected characteristic.

Sometimes it is difficult to work out which laws apply to a situation. If you are not sure what to do, you can get advice about your situation from other organisations, particularly the Arbitration and Conciliation Service (Acas) or Citizens Advice or your trade union. 

More information

Last Updated: 18 Dec 2014