Make a Tribunal claim for direct race 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 race 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 race discrimination claim

Laying out your claim

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

  • An employer advertising a vacancy makes it clear in the advert that Roma need not apply. 
  • 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.
  • A company which employs predominantly British staff recruits Polish nationals and seats them in a separate room nicknamed ‘Little Poland’. 

With direct race 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 race 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 race 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, Carla was awarded £42,809.32 plus interest for injury to feelings after she was subjected to numerous different acts of race and age discrimination. This included direct race discrimination when she was humiliated after a colleague made 2 nasty comments related to her race in front of other colleagues. She also made complaints of sex discrimination, which were not successful.

Real direct race discrimination cases you can learn from

Summary: a Bangladeshi security guard was dismissed after a shift where the door-opening protocol was not completed properly. His white colleague, who was also involved, did not have his conduct investigated and wasn’t dismissed.  

Total award: tbc

Outcome: the Bangladeshi security guard was successful in arguing that his dismissal amounted to direct race discrimination. He had also made 2 other direct race discrimination claims which related to a written warning, but he was unsuccessful in those.

Summary: a soldier received a critical performance appraisal document. He claimed direct race discrimination after the appraisal document rated his performance as poor when he had been observed instructing a course. However, he had not instructed the course. In fact, the course was taught by the only other Black Sergeant at the training wing.

Total award: tbc

Outcome: the soldier was successful in his claim for direct race discrimination due to the mistaken observation. He also made two other direct race discrimination claims, which were dismissed.

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

If you’ve faced direct race 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 racial discrimination complaint.
  • Harassment - where you’ve been subjected to racist behaviour that 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 of a certain race.
  • 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.