Most people are aware that employees need 2 completed years of service to bring an unfair dismissal claim at a tribunal. Less well known is that you need no service to bring a discrimination or whistleblowing claim.

Discrimination claims are brought as employees believe they are discriminated against in the workplace because of one or more the protective characteristics defined in the Equality Act set out below.

  • age,
  • disability,
  • gender reassignment,
  • marriage and civil partnership,
  • pregnancy and maternity,
  • race,
  • religion or belief,
  • sex,
  • sexual orientation.

Employees can claim direct, indirect or associative discrimination as well as bullying and harassment related to a protective characteristic. These claims if successful have no cap on damages awarded unlike unfair dismissal cases.

Employment tribunals last year awarded on average £38,754 for successful age discrimination claims, higher than any other type of claim brought before them.

The usual defence from employers and their managers to this type of claim is ‘it was just banter no harm was meant’. Banter can be very expensive for businesses.

Remember the size of the award does not include the cost to the employer of defending the claim and the reputational damage to the organisation, all hearings can be accessed on the web.

Stay away from tribunals.

To reduce your risk you must show you have up to date policies, procedures and carry out regular staff training to enable them to understand and  recognize all forms of discrimination.