Make a Tribunal claim for indirect 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 an indirect 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 indirect disability discrimination claim

Laying out your claim

When you are claiming indirect disability discrimination at Tribunal, you want to clearly argue that a company policy or practice negatively affects disabled people.  For example: 

  • A job advert states that all applicants must have a driving licence. This puts some disabled people at a disadvantage because they may not have a licence because, for example, their disability means they are not allowed to drive. If the advert is for a job where the requirement to drive can’t be objectively justified, this will be indirect discrimination.
  • A diabetic employee needs regular snacks throughout the day in order to maintain their blood sugar levels. A company policy which only allows one break per day at lunchtime could be indirectly discriminatory if no adjustments to it were made to help the employee.
  • An autistic job applicant was indirectly discriminated against when she failed a test which was a prerequisite of the job application process. The test was multiple choice, which meant that due to her autism, it was more difficult for her to complete than if she had been allowed to give narrative answers.

With indirect disability discrimination, it’s important to know that sometimes indirect discrimination is lawful if it can be justified, for example if there are strong business reasons for the practice.

Also, with indirect 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 indirect disability discrimination claims, people typically refer to evidence such as company policies, reports, emails, letters, meeting notes, medical evidence and witness evidence.

What you can ask for in your indirect 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, Glen won £10,000 plus interest for injury to feelings after he made numerous claims to the Employment Tribunal, and was successful in a number of those claims, including an indirect disability discrimination claim. Glen, who was a long-serving and dedicated employee, had been dismissed from his role after undergoing multiple surgeries on his heart.

Real indirect disability discrimination cases you can learn from

Summary: a solicitor who had been diagnosed with cancer was fired from her job after being absent from work for 26 continuous weeks. 

Total award: £17,007.59 (including interest)

Outcome: there was a clause in her employment contract which allowed the firm to dismiss employees after 26 weeks’ absence, but the Tribunal found that applying the clause to her was indirectly discriminatory, since it would have a disproportionate impact on those with a serious medical condition. She also made a number of other claims and was  successful in claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination arising in consequence of disability, and breach of contract.

Summary: an employee who cared for her elderly mother worked from home but spent part of each week in the office. She was made redundant when her employer proposed ending homeworking contracts. 

Total award: to be confirmed in a separate Remedy Hearing

Outcome: the Tribunal found that she had suffered indirect disability discrimination when she was made redundant. Interestingly, the employee was not disabled herself, and the discrimination was because of her association with her elderly mother. She also made a number of other claims and was successful in her claims for unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination. 

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

If you’ve faced disability discrimination 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 your disability.
  • 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.
  • 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.