The Equality Act 2010 provides, in effect, that it is unlawful for an employer to engage in “prohibited conduct” against an employee or worker on the basis of a “protected characteristic”. The latter characteristics include: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Prohibited conduct means directly or indirectly treating a person less favourably than others. Thus, prohibited conduct based on a protected characteristic amounts to unlawful Discrimination. Where the protected characteristic in question is disability, the employer may have a duty to make Reasonable Adjustments in the workplace to accommodate that disability; a failure to make such an adjustment will also amount to an act of discrimination.
Unlike unfair dismissal, there is no minimum length of service required in order to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal, however, before a claim is submitted to the Tribunal, the potential claimant must register the dispute with a statutory dispute resolution body, namely the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service or “ACAS”, as it is commonly known. ACAS will contact the potential claimant’s employer to see if the dispute can be resolved without resort to the Tribunal; sometimes this is possible, but often it is not.
Employment Tribunal claims must be made within three months of the alleged discriminatory act. The Employment Tribunal has the power to award compensation to successful complainants.
At the Tribunal hearing, both parties will present evidence to support their case. Evidence includes Documentary Evidence and Witness Evidence. Each party’s employment law barristers will carry out Examination-in-chief of their own witnesses, and Cross-examination of the opposing party’s witnesses. At the end of the Tribunal hearing, the barristers will make Legal Submissions to the judge. The judge will then decide whether the claim should succeed. Unsuccessful parties can appeal against the Employment Tribunal judge’s decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (often known as the “EAT”) on a point of law only.
Demstone Chambers’ employment law barristers can help with any employment dispute, including: providing advice, drafting documents, preparing bundles of documents for hearings in the Employment Tribunal, and appearing in the Tribunal.