Make a Tribunal claim for harassment

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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 harassment 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 harassment claim

Laying out your claim

When you are claiming harassment at Tribunal, you want to clearly argue that you have been subjected to unwanted conduct related to a protected characteristic (whether or not you have this protected characteristic yourself). This needs to have the purpose or effect of violating your dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for you. 

If you’re claiming sexual harassment, the legal test is slightly different - see our page on that here.

Some examples of harassment related to a protected characteristic are:

  • A white worker sees a Black colleague being subjected to racially abusive language, which creates an offensive environment for them - this could be harassment based on the protected characteristic of race.
  • A woman’s supervisor makes a statement in front of her male colleagues that she should be at home cooking and cleaning for her husband - this could be harassment based on the protected characteristic of sex.
  • An employee’s colleagues make hurtful and offensive remarks about their autistic child - this could be harassment based on the protected characteristic of disability.

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

What you can ask for in your harassment 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, Mina was subjected to age-related and sexual harassment. This came after a number of comments and actions over a period of time, including when her boss told her she was thick and old because she did not have an iCloud account. She was awarded a sum of £8,000, plus interest, in compensation for injury to feelings. She was also successful in a number of other claims, some of which failed and some of which she won - including a successful claim for unfair dismissal.

Real harassment cases you can learn from

Summary: a bisexual man working at a handbag shop was told that he should only hire women and gay men to work in the shop. He also heard managers explicitly discussing that they should hide the fact that he was bisexual, rather than gay.

Total award: £7,000 (plus interest)

Outcome: the Tribunal found that he had been harassed based on the protected characteristic of sexual orientation.

Summary: an employee who was blind in one eye was mocked by a colleague. The colleague squinted and made funny eyes with reference to her, in order to get others at work to laugh at her.

Total award: £11,218.20 for the harassment aspect

Outcome: the Tribunal found that this was harassment related to her disability. She also succeeded in claims for both wrongful and unfair dismissal.

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

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

  • Direct discrimination - where you’ve been treated badly because of a protected characteristic.
  • Victimisation - where you’ve been treated badly because you made or helped with a discrimination complaint.
  • 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.