Deciding whether to make a claim
If you think you may have been discriminated against, it is a good idea to consider your options carefully. You may decide to bring a claim in court or in the employment tribunal, or you may consider that your complaint can be better resolved another way. If you think you might want to bring a claim in court or the employment tribunal, you need to act quickly, as strict time limits apply to making claims at tribunal.
Considering your options
Before making a claim, you should carefully consider whether it is the right course of action for you. Making a claim is demanding on your time and emotions, and before starting the process you may want to assess whether or not you have a good chance of suceeding. You may also want to consider if there are better ways of resolving your complaint.
The first stage in making this assessment is to understand what your rights are. These depend on your circumstances. You should find what you are looking for in either the 'Rights in different settings' section or within the sections about specific types of discrimination - Age, Disability, Gender, Race, Religion and Belief or Sexual Orientation. You may also want to consider if your human rights have been denied.
Bearing this information in mind, you then need to make a realistic assessment as to whether you may have been discriminated against. It can be hard to make this assessment yourself and it is sensible to seek legal advice before actually making a claim. Get help and advice if you can (see below).
You then need to decide whether making a claim is the best way to deal with the matter, it is not always the best option, and there may be other ways to solve your complaint. If it is an employment matter, work through our workplace problem solving guide first.
You may decide that taking a claim is the best option. In that case you could find out more about taking taking a claim to an employment tribunal or taking a claim to County Court (England and Wales) or to Sheriff Court (Scotland).
You can contact Our Helpline for advice and information about your rights, to talk through your options if you have experienced discrimination, or to find out what steps to take next.
If you are a member of a trade union, you can get advice and repesentation from your trade union representative for workplace problems. They can usually help advise you with informal and formal grievances as well as going to a tribunal. If you do not know who your local union representative is, contact the trade union's head office or the national equality officer who can put you in touch with your local union representative.
If you do not have a trade union but there is a staff association at your workplace, contact them as they may be able to offer advice and support.
Citizens Advice Bureau
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) can advise you on your rights at work and in other settings. CAB advisers can often help you write letters to present your complaint or claim to an employer, service provider or business. Sometimes, the CAB will provide representation if you make a claim at the employment tribunal. Find your nearest bureau at www.citizensadvice.org.uk or visit their advice website for information and advice.
Law centres were set up to provide free and independent legal services in their local area. You can find out if there is a law centre in the area where you live or work on (telephone) 020 7387 8570 or at www.lawcentres.org.uk.
There are many equality organisations that can provide some help and support to individuals when they experience discrimination. Many have helplines or websites where you can find out whether they will be able to help. Some organisations produce fact-sheets or leaflets about your rights or aimed at employers - you could show this information to your employer.
Similarly there are many community based centres and projects that provide support and help to people in their area when they are having problems. This may be in the form of information, advocacy help, someone to talk things through, or practical support.
Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)
The role of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is to help employees and employers resolve disputes at work. ACAS gives impartial information about employment law to both employees and employers.
If you have problems at work, ACAS can explain your rights at work. They can also tell you what legal duties your employer has. ACAS cannot take sides or give specific advice about your personal situation. You can contact ACAS via:
- ACAS national helpline on 08457 474747
- ACAS website www.acas.org.uk
Last Updated: 15 Jul 2009