Make a Tribunal claim for direct disability discrimination

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How to make a Tribunal claim

You can make a Tribunal claim at no cost to the Employment Tribunal, using the ET1 form. Before you submit your claim, you must contact ACAS, the public body who can help to resolve your claim through Early Conciliation. You can write your particulars of claim using our ET1 Particulars of Claim template.

This guide will walk you through making a direct disability discrimination claim.

How to complete Section 8.2 of the ET1 form

The ET1 form will ask in section 8.2 for the background and details of your claim. The best way to approach this is to write your Particulars of Claim (called a Paper Apart if you are in Scotland). This is where you lay out what happened, what legal claims you’d like to make and your reasoning. 

This section is the heart of your Tribunal claim and is very important and difficult to change later on, so it’s worth spending some time to make sure it’s clear.

How to create your particulars of claim:

  1. Write your ET1 section 8.2

    You’ll normally do this by creating a separate document called the Particulars of Claim (or Paper Apart in Scotland). This sets out the background and details of your claim. Valla offers step-by-step guidance to help you make sure your claims are clear and laid out in the right way.

  2. Convert the file to Rich Text Format (RTF)

    Convert your file to RTF and attach it to the online ET1 form. If you’re not sure how to do this, you can purchase Valla’s Peace of Mind Check and we will sort this out for you.

  3. Submit your ET1 form

    Wait for the Tribunal to acknowledge your claim. They will also send a copy to the Respondent, who will have 28 days to respond.

Specific things to consider in your direct disability discrimination claim

Laying out your claim

When you are claiming direct disability discrimination at Tribunal, you want to clearly argue that you have been treated unfairly because of disability. This is usually because of your own disability, but it could also be that you’re perceived to be disabled, or because someone you’re with or connected to is disabled. For example:

  • During an interview, a job applicant informs the employer that they have multiple sclerosis. The applicant is unsuccessful and the employer offers the job to someone who does not have a disability. This could be direct disability discrimination if the less favourable treatment was because of the applicant’s disability.
  • A single parent caring for a disabled child has to take time off work whenever their child is sick or has medical appointments. The employer appears to resent the fact that the worker needs to care for their child and eventually dismisses them. 
  • An employer does not short-list an internal applicant for a job because the applicant has helped to set up an informal staff network for disabled workers. This could amount to direct disability discrimination whether or not the applicant themselves is disabled. 

With direct disability discrimination, your employer can be liable for the acts of its employees, as well as the employees being personally responsible. 

Proving your claim

You don’t need to attach evidence to a Tribunal ET1 claim, but it’s a good idea to back up your claims by mentioning the evidence you intend to use. For direct disability discrimination claims, people typically refer to evidence such as text messages, emails, letters, meeting notes, medical evidence and witness evidence.

What you can ask for in your direct disability discrimination claim

If you’re successful in a Tribunal claim, you will be awarded a “remedy”. This mainly includes financial compensation, like loss of earnings. It can also include some non-financial remedies too.

Common remedies people ask for at Tribunal

Some of the key remedies you can ask for at Tribunal are:

  • The money you have lost from being out of work, or working in a lower-paid job.
  • The money that you expect to lose in the future from being out of work, or working in a lower-paid job.
  • Wages that you are owed, including holiday pay and notice pay.

Discrimination-specific remedies

As well as the common remedies that you can ask for, discrimination-specific claims also have the option to include an “injury to feelings” remedy. This is compensation which you can be awarded when you have been hurt or distressed because you have been discriminated against.

Injury to feelings is generally awarded within one of three “Vento bands” depending on severity:

  • for less serious cases - £990 to £9,900
  • for more serious cases - £9,900 to £29,600
  • for the most serious cases - £29,600 to £49,300

For example, Jumana, an employee in a dessert shop, only worked there less than three months before she was dismissed by a text message from her line manager. Jumana had diabetes which meant that she had to take insulin injections on a regular basis. Her line manager told her in the text “I think you need to find a job more suitable to your health requirements”. Jumana told the Tribunal that she felt worthless and afraid that she would never find a job again. She was awarded £5,000, plus an ACAS uplift and interest, for injury to feelings. 

Real direct disability discrimination cases you can learn from

Summary: a police officer was refused a transfer because the Acting Chief Inspector believed her hearing might deteriorate in the future, making it difficult for her to carry out front-line duties. 

Total award: £26,616.05

Outcome: the police officer was successful in her claim of direct disability discrimination by perception. Even though the Acting Chief Inspector did not believe the officer was disabled at the time, the fact that she refused the transfer because of what she thought might happen in the future was enough to amount to direct discrimination.

Summary: a job applicant was not hired due to the fact that he had been absent from his previous job for more than four months with mental health issues.

Total award: £4,410

Outcome: the Tribunal found that one of the reasons why the employer rejected the applicant was because of his mental health disability. This amounted to direct disability discrimination. He was also successful in a claim for disability victimisation, due to the fact that the interviewers were worried about his history of having raised grievances and a Tribunal claim against his previous employer.

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

If you’ve faced direct disability discrimination at work, there are potentially a number of other discrimination claims that could apply to you:

  • Victimisation - where you’ve been treated badly because you made or helped with a disability discrimination complaint.
  • Harassment - where you’ve been subjected to behaviour that relates to a disability and is unwanted. This behaviour must make you feel, or be intended to make you feel intimidated, degraded, or offended.
  • Indirect discrimination - where a company policy or practice negatively affects disabled people.
  • Sexual harassment - where you have experienced unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, or been treated less favourably because you have either submitted to or rejected sexual harassment, or harassment related to sex or gender reassignment. 
  • Failure to make reasonable adjustments - where your employer has failed to make a reasonable change to help you to do your job, or apply for a job, to reduce the impact of your disability.
  • Discrimination arising from disability - where you’ve been treated unfairly because of something connected to your disability rather than the disability itself. 

You may also be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal or another type of employment law. You can download your free Action Toolkit to find out more.