Workplace discrimination is not merely an ethical issue but also a legal one. In the UK, the key piece of legislation that addresses discrimination at work is The Equality Act 2010 (EqA). This act protects individuals from discrimination based on a range of ‘protected characteristics’, including; age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race and nationality, religion and belief, and sexual orientation.
If you believe you have experienced discrimination in the workplace, you may be able to take a discrimination claim to the Employment Tribunal. When doing so, having strong evidence is paramount to winning your case and getting the compensation you deserve. You often require much more evidence when going to the Employment Tribunal than you do when making an informal complaint or formal grievance to your employer.
It is key to note that in discrimination cases, you need to provide clear facts to satisfy your ‘burden of proof’. When doing so, the burden of proof shifts to your employer and they need to prove that there was a non-discriminatory reason for the unfavourable treatment you experienced. Ultimately, the Employment Tribunal must determine that on the balance of probabilities, discrimination has taken place for you to win your claim.
The Equality Act 2010 outlines several types of discrimination, including direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. Regardless of which type of discrimination you have suffered, below is some information about gathering strong evidence for your case.
Document Everything Yourself
It is beneficial to note any discriminatory behaviour you have experienced as soon as possible. Write down everything including the comments or actions experienced, the date and time, the location and any other individuals involved. Not to mention, the way the discriminatory behaviour made you feel. It can be helpful to make a note of the reason why you think you have been discriminated against too, such as the protected characteristic.
The more information you note down at this time, the more beneficial it will be in the future. Do not overlook seemingly minor incidents in the workplace either. A series of subtle comments or actions can build a strong discrimination case, so be sure to write everything down.
Speak to Witnesses
Although you do not need a witness when making an Employment Tribunal claim for discrimination, it can be beneficial to have a witness to corroborate your version of events. If any colleagues or even clients saw or heard what happened, you should discreetly and respectfully ask them if they would be willing to testify or provide statements. If they are willing to help, you can then include them in your case.
Secure Physical Evidence
In some circumstances, you may have physical evidence of the discriminatory behaviour, such as emails or social media posts. It is very important to ensure you are saving any evidence of discriminatory behaviour somewhere safe. Do not worry if you do not have physical evidence though, this is not uncommon as discrimination often happens face-to-face. Your personal statements or witness statements can be enough to win a discrimination claim.
Your HR department or employer will likely have official documents, such as appraisals or meeting notes, that you do not have access to. You can write to your employer to ask for any official documents that you require for your discrimination claim. Your employer does not legally have to provide you with the documents you ask for, however, if they do not reply or provide you with the information, this can sometimes go against them at the Employment Tribunal.
Whilst gathering evidence, you can also ask your employer some questions about the unfavourable treatment you experienced. For instance, you could ask why you did not receive a promotion. Again, your employer does not have to answer these questions but it is often in their best interest to respond. Make sure you keep copies of any questions you ask as well as any correspondence with your employer when requesting documents.
Seek Legal Advice
It is always beneficial to contact an employment law specialist when you are considering an Employment Tribunal claim. They can assess all of your evidence and offer guidance on the robustness of your case. Depending on the evidence you have, they may recommend that you progress with one part of the claim but not another, for example, or they may inform you of other types of discrimination that you have experienced in the eyes of the law.
Do not forget that all discrimination claims have strict time limits. You only have three months less one day from the date of the discriminatory act to make a claim at an Employment Tribunal. It is crucial to act promptly and collect evidence straight away.
Making an Employment Tribunal Claim for Discrimination
While facing discrimination is undeniably challenging, standing up against it is something all employees should do. With the correct approach and comprehensive evidence, you can navigate the legal system and get the compensation you deserve, whether this is for loss of earnings and/or injury to feelings.
Should you be looking for Employment Tribunal representation for discrimination claims, do not hesitate to contact us at Nationwide Employment Lawyers. We can assist you with any potential employment law claims, including discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. Our team of employment law solicitors, barristers and advocates can support you through the process of making a claim. We will provide you with sensible, sound advice and be honest with you from the outset to keep any legal fees to a minimum.