Making a complaint about discrimination
If you feel you are being discriminated against, either at work or when you are studying, there is a template letter you can fill out and send to the person you think is discriminating against you. The reply you get should help you decide how to handle the problem.
The discrimination template letter
Do it online
Use the template letter to make a discrimination complaint about:
- sexual orientation
- religion or belief
This discrimination template letter is offered by the government to help you and the person or organisation you feel has discriminated against you (the respondent) to gather all the information you need about your discrimination complaint.
The letter could help give you more information about your problem so you can make a better, more informed decision about whether you want to start legal proceedings and, if you do, how to best topresent your complaint.
The letter has been designed so that you can fill out the first section and then the respondent can use the second section as a template for their reply.
There are three main benefits to using the letter. They are that:
- if the answers satisfy you, there may be no need for you to start legal proceedings
- if the answers do not satisfy you, the answers should help identify what you agree about and where you disagree
- if you make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal or start legal action, the proceedings should be simpler because you will have identified your disagreement in advance
You do not have to use the template letter and if you do, the respondent does not have to use the template reply. You could approach the respondent in a different way, for example by writing them your own letter.
Filling in the template letter
Before using a template letter you should read this article carefully. It is sometimes useful to think about what you want to say to your employer before starting.
You can use the template letter on Directgov if you feel you are being discriminated against because of your:
- sexual orientation
- religion or belief
If you feel you are being discriminated because of other reasons you can use template letters provided by other government departments. For:
- disability discrimination from the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- racial discrimination from the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- sex discrimination/equal pay from the Government Equalities Office
- Equality and Human Rights Commission discrimination advice
- Government Equalities Office
If you need further advice you could contact Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service),a Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) or if you are a member of a trade union you can get help from them. If you wanted to, you could also seek independent legal advice but this can be costly.
Sending the letter
- keep a copy of your letter
- make sure you send the part you filled in and the template for the response
- address it directly to the person you want to respond (e.g., your boss)
- send it to their usual last knownaddress or place of business
If you know they are acting through a solicitor you should send it to that address.
You should send your letter to the secretary or clerk at the registered or principal office ifyour questions are directed at:
- a limited company or other corporate body
- a trade union or employers' association
You should be able to find out where this is by asking at your public library. However, if you are unable to do this, you could send the letter to the place where you think it is most likely they will reach the secretary or clerk. It is your responsibility to make sure they receive it.
You can deliver the letter in person, by post or by email. If you send them by post, you should use recorded delivery to give you proof your letter was delivered.
Your employers reply
Your employer does not have to reply to your letter. However, if your employer does not reply within eight weeks, or replies in a vague or evasive way, without a reasonable excuse, a court or Employment Tribunal may take their behaviour into account if you decide to bring legal proceedings.
Time limit for making a complaint
If you are making a complaint about discrimination, you must make it within a certain time.
You must make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal withinthree months of the incident.
Discrimination relating to your study
If your complaint is about discimination relating to your study (e.g., against an institution of Higher Education or Further Education) you must make an application to the county or sheriff court withinsix months of the incident.
A court or Employment Tribunal can accept a late complaint if it would be fair and reasonable to do so.
Employment Tribunal proceedings
To be able to use your letter in an Employment Tribunal proceeding, you must give your employer the letter before you complain to an Employment Tribunal. If you have already made a complaint to an Employment Tribunal, you should make every effort to give your employer the letter within 21 days of the Employment Tribunal receiving your complaint.
If 21 days has passed since an Employment Tribunal received your complaint, you could still write to the respondent if the Employment Tribunal gives its permission. To get this, you must write to the Secretary of the Tribunals and include:
- your name
- the respondents name
- the reason for your request
County or sheriff court proceedings
To be able to use your letter in county or sheriff court proceedings you must give the respondent the letter before you complain to the court. If you have already started proceedings you may still be able to send the respondent a letter if you have the courts permission.
In county court proceedings you should fill out the appropriate form from the county court office and send it to the court (with the correct fee) and to your employer.
In sheriff court proceedings, it is done by making an application to a sheriff.
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