Make a Tribunal claim for victimisation after a pregnancy and maternity discrimination complaint

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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 read more about this and how to fill in your claim form here.

This guide will walk you through making a pregnancy and maternity victimisation 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 pregnancy and maternity victimisation claim

Laying out your claim

When you are claiming pregnancy and maternity victimisation at Tribunal, you want to clearly argue that you have been treated badly because you have made a complaint about pregnancy and maternity discrimination, or have helped a colleague make a complaint about pregnancy and maternity discrimination. For example:

  • An employee makes a complaint of pregnancy and maternity discrimination against their employer. As a result, they are denied promotion.
  • An employer threatens to dismiss a staff member because he thinks she intends to support a colleague’s pregnancy and maternity discrimination claim.
  • A senior manager upholds a worker’s grievance about pregnancy and maternity discrimination. As a result, they are not put forward by their director to attend an important conference on behalf of the company.

With pregnancy and maternity victimisation, 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 pregnancy and maternity victimisation 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 pregnancy and maternity victimisation 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, Carolyn won a pregnancy and maternity victimisation claim because the Tribunal found that the reason her employer withheld commission payments owed to her was because she had commenced Early Conciliation through ACAS (in respect of her claim for discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy). She was also successful in claims for direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination, unfair constructive dismissal, and detriments because of her pregnancy. She was awarded £20,000 plus interest for injury to feelings.

Real pregnancy and maternity victimisation cases you can learn from

Summary: a branch manager had her maternity pay reduced whilst she was on maternity leave, after the company reneged on its promise to pay her an enhanced rate. A number of issues ensued regarding this and her proposed return to work, which was complicated by the fact she was stuck abroad due to the Covid pandemic. She said to her manager that she felt “discriminated against”, and then later complained to another senior member of the business that she felt she was being treated unfairly because she was on maternity leave. Eventually she started early conciliation through ACAS. After that, her manager made it difficult for her to work part-time and changed her job duties so that she was no longer in charge of the branch.   

Total award: £16,904.48 

Outcome: the Tribunal found that a significant factor in her manager’s treatment of her request for part-time working and changing of her job duties was the fact that she had raised concerns about discrimination. Her claim for victimisation was successful. She also made a few other claims, and was successful in her claim for unlawful deduction of wages.

Summary: a real estate negotiator was victimised after telling her manager that she thought she was being discriminated against due to her pregnancy. Instead of going through a fair grievance policy, she was ultimately dismissed.

Total award: £45,249.07

Outcome: the Tribunal found that the whole approach of the company’s director had been to seek to avoid addressing her grievance and to discipline her instead. She was successful in her claim for pregnancy and maternity victimisation, as well as claims for direct pregnancy and maternity discrimination and automatic unfair dismissal.

Further reading

Related Tribunal claims 

If you’ve faced pregnancy and maternity victimisation 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 pregnancy or maternity.
  • Harassment (note that you can’t claim for pregnancy and maternity harassment, but you may be able to make a claim for sex harassment) - where you’ve been subjected to behaviour that relates to your sex and is unwanted. This behaviour must make you feel, or be intended to make you feel intimidated, degraded, or offended.
  • Indirect discrimination (note that you can’t claim for indirect pregnancy and maternity discrimination, but you may be able to make a claim for indirect sex discrimination) - where a company policy or practice negatively affects people of a particular sex.
  • 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.