Make a Tribunal claim for direct 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 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 discrimination claim

Laying out your claim

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

  • An employer recruits a man rather than a woman because they assume that women do not have the strength to do the job - this would be direct sex discrimination.
  • An employer rejects a job application form from a white man who they wrongly think is Black, because the applicant has an African-sounding name - this would be direct race discrimination.
  • The manager of a nightclub is disciplined for refusing to carry out an instruction to exclude older customers from the club - this would be direct age discrimination.

With direct 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 discrimination claims, people typically refer to evidence such as text messages, emails, letters, meeting notes and witness evidence.

What you can ask for in your direct 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 - £1,200 to £11,700
  • for more serious cases - £11,700 to £35,200
  • for the most serious cases - £35,200 to £58,700

For example, 16-year-old Josip won £2,500 for injury to feelings when he was subjected to direct age discrimination. The company ended his apprenticeship contract stating that he “had a lot of maturing up to do”. As well as this he also successfully made a claim for breach of contract.

The Tribunal said the injury to feelings award reflected the damage to his confidence as described by him in evidence and as reflected in his giving up hopes of becoming a joiner and taking employment in a supermarket for now.

Real direct discrimination cases you can learn from

Summary: a female chef was denied the chance to work at a barbecue on the grounds that it was an all-male event. 

Total award: £575

Outcome: the Tribunal found that not selecting her because of her sex was direct discrimination.

Summary: a police force removed a narcotics police dog from a police dog handler after she informed them she was pregnant.

Total award: £11,000

Outcome: the Tribunal found that this amounted to direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination. On appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, they found that it was possible that this could also be indirect discrimination too.

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

If you’ve faced direct 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 discrimination complaint.
  • Harassment - where you’ve been subjected to behaviour that relates to a protected characteristic 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 a group of people who fall under the protected characteristic you are claiming.
  • 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 (note that this only applies to disability) - 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 (note that this only applies to 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.