It is possible to submit a case to an employment tribunal before completing the grievance process but it must be shown that an attempt has been made to find a resolution this way. Cases should be submitted to an employment tribunal within three months of either the date that the employment ended or from the date of incident (or last act in a series of events) took place.
How to bring a discrimination claim to employment tribunal
You must contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to advise them that you intend to take a case to Employment Tribunal. They can offer support to resolve the issue.
Step 1 - complete an online claim form
The form allows you to select the grounds on which you believe you have been discriminated against and provide a statement about what has happened to you. You will need a certificate number from ACAS to show you have spoken with them.
Step 2 - your employer has 28 days to respond
The employment tribunal will send this form to your employer and you will be sent a copy of their response. If your employer does not respond, the employment tribunal may issue a judgement against your employer without a hearing.
Step 3 - you will receive an invitation to attend a preliminary hearing
This meeting is for the Employment Judge to set dates for future meetings to disclose documents, exchange witness statements and for the hearing itself. Both parties or their legal representatives are required to attend.
Step 4 - you will be invited to disclose all relevant documents
You will need to disclose all relevant documents, whether they help or hinder your case. Withholding relevant documents could have serious consequences. If you know documents exist which have not been sent to you, you should apply for an order requiring your employer to send them to you.
Step 5 - you will be invited to exchange witness statements
You will need to exchange witness statements. You may just rely on your own statement or you may ask others to prepare statements in support of your case. A witness statement contains the evidence you are relying on to support your case; you can refer to personal experiences and any documents which you have submitted.
Step 6 - The hearing
- You will be required to be present for the entire hearing, so if you have another job you may need to take time off to attend.
- Cases are normally heard by three members of a panel comprised of a legally qualified employment judge and two other members known as lay members. One of these will be from an employment background and one will normally be from a Trade Union background.
- You may choose to be represented by a solicitor or a barrister but you may also represent yourself or be represented by a colleague or friend.
- During the hearing both parties will be given the opportunity to present their cases. You may be asked to read your witness statement out loud.
- You will then have an opportunity to cross examine your employer’s witnesses on their statements by asking questions about their evidence in front of the panel.
- Your employer will have the opportunity to cross examine you and any of your witnesses.
- The hearing will usually be open to the public. However, you can apply for the employment tribunal to restrict reporting.
Step 7 - The decision
The Employment Judge may tell you whether or not you have won your case at the end of the hearing or they may write to you after the hearing with the panel's decision. If the Employment Judge doesn't send you the reason for its decision you can request a copy of the reasons in writing within 14 days.
If you are successful, you may be awarded financial compensation for the way you have been treated. How much will depend partly on what you have lost financially in terms of salary, fees etc. You may also receive an injury to feelings award and a few other smaller awards
Step 8 - Appeal
You may appeal against the decision of the employment tribunal within 14 days of the date written reasons for the decision were sent to you. You may only appeal on a point of law or if the employment tribunal overlooked relevant facts of the case. It is also possible for your employer to appeal against a decision.
Employment tribunal fees
Employment Tribunal Fees are divided into two levels, and greater detail on these can be found on the Employment Tribunals website. Any claim for discrimination, harassment, unfair dismissal or victimisation will be covered under Type B. As these cases are often more complicated the fees for them are higher.
The initial fee, payable at submission of a claim, for Type B issues is £250. A further £950 is payable should the claim reach hearing stage.
Employment Appeals Tribunals fees, for all claims, are £400 at submission and a further £1,200 at hearing stage.
It is possible to apply for a reduction or an exemption in fees if your household income is below a certain level or if, at the time you issue the claim or appeal you are receiving certain benefits.
Leigh Day Solicitors have produced a detailed guide on fees and how to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal. You can down that guide here.
For further information please contact Stonewall's Information Service on 08000 50202, tweet to @StonewallUKInfo or email firstname.lastname@example.org