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Employees should not fear making discrimination claims

Employees who have suffered discrimination should not be put off from bringing a claim

14 October 2013

Incidents of discrimination in the workplace are, unfortunately, far from uncommon.  Many affected employees, however, are afraid to pursue their legal rights against their employers, even when their employers are clearly in breach of the law.

There are many reasons why an employee might not want to make a discrimination claim, particularly in the current economic climate. While struggling businesses may be taking a harsher line with employees, employees may be wary of complaining about their employer for fear that reprisals will be taken against them that could cost them their jobs.

Employees may be afraid that if they make a complaint about discrimination, their employer may think that they are  ‘rocking the boat’ and try and dismiss them.  They may worry that making a complaint could adversely affect their job security or income.  The law, however, protects employees who have been victimised by their employers as a result of making genuine complaints about discrimination and employees should try not to let fear put them off fighting workplace discrimination.

Discrimination claims need not be daunting

It is understandable that an employee can feel daunted by the prospect of taking legal action against their employer.  An employee who is thinking of bringing Employment Tribunal proceedings against their employer following an act of discrimination may worry about the expenses involved, particularly as there is now a fee for making a claim to an Employment Tribunal, and may be concerned about the complexity of the process.  Other employees may not be aware that the discrimination they have suffered may be unlawful and something that they can complain about to their employer or to an Employment Tribunal.   .  Others may be concerned about how their employers and co-workers might react to them if they brought Employment Tribunal proceedings and could worry about being isolated or otherwise victimised in the workplace. These worries are normal and completely understandable but, thankfully, they are not insurmountable. 

It is true that making a claim to an Employment Tribunal can be stressful and can lead to uncomfortable conversations at work.  Discrimination in the workplace should not be tolerated, however, and employees should not be treated less favourably if they have complained about unlawful conduct at work. As long as employees have the appropriate advice, support and guidance to help them, bringing a discrimination claim in an Employment Tribunal should not be off-putting.

Fighting discrimination at all levels

Discrimination can occur in any job and at any stage of a person’s career.  It could happen to a person in a junior position or to a person in an executive-level role.  Earlier this year, a city banker who had earned £150,000 a year sued her employer for victimisation and sex discrimination after her employer dismissed her on discovering that she had brought an Employment Tribunal case against her previous employer.  The Tribunal upheld her claim for victimisation.

It is against the law for employers to treat someone less favourably on the grounds of age, disability, gender identity, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and/or sexual orientation.  Employees who are treated unlawfully by their employers should not be afraid to complain about the treatment they have suffered.

The importance of sound advice and support

Whatever form of discrimination has occurred, from a one-off incident of inappropriate language to a lengthy campaign of discrimination, for example, against an employee on maternity leave, it is important that expert advice is sought as soon as possible.
If you feel you have been discriminated against or treated unfairly at work and would like to find out more about making a claim, contact our specialist employment discrimination lawyers today for more information by calling 020 7650 1200.

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