Guidance for employees

What to do if you think you have suffered discrimination

employees

This sets out your rights and actions you can take if you suffer discrimination at work.

What are my rights at work?

You have the right not to be discriminated against from the very start of your relationship with an employer, as discrimination laws also apply in respect of treatment of job applicants. 

In particular you should not be treated badly for raising any complaints of discrimination and there is legal protection for victimisation if you carry out a protected act, e.g. complain of discrimination or do anything in connection with the Equality Act 2010, provided you act in good faith.  

What should I do if I suffer discrimination at work?

If you receive treatment you are not happy with you should, if possible, make clear that you do not accept that treatment. Note that the definition of harassment requires that the conduct be “unwanted”. It will be easier for you to prove any later case if you can show that you have made clear that you are not happy with the conduct, either to the people/persons whose actions you are concerned about or to management. Also, raising it at an early stage gives your employer a chance to deal with it. Many issues can be resolved without formal procedures, but members can contact our employment team if this seems unlikely or you have any particular questions.

Keep a record of what happens to you and when. 

Check whether your employer has policies in this regard and whether there is a designated person to contact about these issues and, if so, raise the matter with them. 

How do I raise a complaint of discrimination?

If an informal discussion with your employer does not resolve the issue, raise a grievance. Check whether there is a grievance procedure and if there is, follow it. Raise the grievance within a reasonable time and preferably with a manager who is not the subject of the grievance if that is possible. Contact our employment team for advice if there is no procedure or you are working in a practice that is too small to allow for a neutral person to talk to.

In the grievance you should set out what your complaint is: what has happened to you and when. If this is discrimination you should state this and state what protected characteristic you are relying on e.g. race, sex etc. 

Your employer should invite you to a meeting to discuss the complaint, investigate and provide you with an outcome letter and an opportunity to appeal.

You have the right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative. Contact our employment team in good time so we can make arrangements for a trade union representative to attend the meeting with you. Engage in the grievance process with an open mind and be willing to listen to your employer's point of view. Think about what outcome you would like to see from the grievance hearing. It is helpful to have ideas about what practical steps your employer could take to resolve your complaint.

If you were to later try to bring a tribunal claim about these events, you might have any compensation reduced for an unreasonable failure to follow the ACAS Code of Practice so follow the Code. You may also find it helpful to refer to the ACAS Guide.

Note that raising a grievance does not extend the time limit (generally three months less one day from the act complained of) for pursuing a claim about the original conduct so contact our employment team in good time.

What if my complaint relates to patients'/customers' conduct?

You should raise any concerns with your employer and consider raising a grievance if informal resolution is not possible. It can help protect you to follow up an oral complaint in writing as evidence of your complaint. Keep good records of the events you have complained of.

Check whether any particular person at the practice is responsible for dealing with these issues.

What if following any internal procedure does not resolve the issue?

Members can contact our employment team in good time for advice, as a decision about whether to pursue further action should not be taken lightly.

Remember that in general if you wish to pursue an employment tribunal claim you must take action within three months less one day of the matter you are complaining about and that time is not extended because you are following a grievance process.

You must make an ACAS notification for early conciliation before lodging a claim and this can be a useful way of trying to resolve the issue without needing to bring a tribunal claim. It can also have the effect of extending the time limits for pursuing a tribunal complaint.

There is a non-mandatory question and answer procedure which can be helpful to gather evidence in support of a discrimination claim.