Blog - 03/04/2023
Proving Discrimination at Work: How to prepare an effective grievance
If you are being discriminated against at work, you may need to raise a grievance. The purpose of the grievance is to communicate your concerns to your employer in a clear and effective manner so that they are addressed and resolved. However, your grievance will also be a key piece of evidence in the Employment Tribunal, recording what you have told your employer and when. With this in mind, here are some considerations for preparing an effective grievance:
Consider whether to raise your grievance formally or informally
Which is appropriate will depend on the facts but in either case, you should do it in writing, which may be in letter, email or even text message format depending on the scope of your grievance and who you are addressing it to.
Put together a timeline of events
Often complaints of discrimination relate to multiple incidents. Putting together a timeline of events will help you identify the acts of discrimination you are concerned about, and to present your grievance in a logical manner.
Keep things relevant
The most effective grievances focus on the key issues and best points, preferably ones that can be backed up by evidence. Don’t get embroiled in extraneous background detail or complaints which are obviously not discriminatory. For example, if your complaint is about your manager’s decisions in relation to your pay, focus on what evidence there is to support that, for example, positive performance appraisals, details of comparator pay and relevant communications or other records concerning your pay and/or the scope of your role and responsibilities.
Provide detail and refer to evidence
Where possible include all key facts such as dates, times and locations of incidents, together with the names of those involved and any potential witnesses. Make specific reference to documentary or other evidence. This will help your Employer’s investigation and will more likely lead to your grievance being upheld.
Write your grievance for the Tribunal
Your grievance should be written such that a third party with no knowledge of your job or your employer would understand it; include full names and role titles and provide relevant context. This will make it easier for an Employment Tribunal to understand your grievance in the event of a future claim.
Avoid using offensive language
Complaints about discrimination are serious and your Employer’s instinctive response may be to be defensive. Using abrasive, aggressive or insulting language is going to discourage your employer (and the Employment Tribunal) from sympathising with you and/or taking your grievance seriously. Your tone should instead be reasonable and measured.
Explain the impact of the discrimination on you
It is common for individuals who have experienced discrimination, to also suffer from depression and/or anxiety. If your health has been affected this is relevant to your claim for injury to feelings. It may also be the case that your employer should make reasonable adjustments to the grievance process to accommodate your ill health; for example by asking questions and allowing you to respond in writing rather than at a face to face meeting. It may also be relevant to determining the appropriate outcome.
Consider what a successful outcome would be
This could include disciplinary action or training for the individual(s) you have complained about, redress for any imbalance in pay or benefits or other losses you have sustained, or a change in role or to your employer’s practices. You are more likely to get what you want if you ask for it, particularly if what you are asking for is reasonable and realistic.
If you are considering raising a grievance, please contact partner Emma Sangeelee or any member of the Employment team. We routinely assist our clients in drafting their grievances, either on the record, or remaining behind the scenes but providing support at each stage of the process.
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Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.
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