What can you do about discrimination or harassment at work?
If you are experiencing discrimination at work, take action as quickly as possible:
- Tell the person discriminating against you or harassing you to stop. Only do this if you feel it is safe. You may find it helpful to have a work colleague or trade union representative with you when you do this
- Tell your manager that someone is discriminating against you or harassing you because of your religion or belief. Put it in writing and keep a copy. Your employer is required by law to try and prevent it. If the person involved is your manager, tell someone higher up in the organisation
- Talk to your personnel department or trade union. They might be able to help you stop the discrimination or harassment
- Get advice. A Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help or refer you to a specialist. Details of how to find your nearest CAB are at the end of this fact sheet.
- Collect evidence. This could include keeping a diary or record of the time, date and location of any incidents, what was said or done, if there were any witnesses and evidence of any similar incidents against colleagues. Record the names and jobs of those you think are treated better than you, or of the rule or policy that puts you at a disadvantage, and explain why
- The law allows you to ask your employer to provide information through a questionnaire procedure. This can help you get information to support your case. Get advice early on as there are strict time limits in this procedure.
Taking further action
Raising a grievance
If you've tried to stop the discrimination or harassment without success, you should raise a written grievance. All workplaces should have a grievance procedure. Your trade union or an adviser can help. Although the law can help protect you against victimisation, think carefully about taking out a grievance or making a complaint as this could put your job in danger or make your life at work even more uncomfortable.
Taking your case to an employment tribunal
If you have not been able to solve your problem through raising a grievance, you may have to make a claim to an employment tribunal. You should have raised a written grievance with your employer before you do this.
Employment tribunals resolve disputes between employers and employees over employment rights, including discrimination at work. You will need to prove your case – that’s why you need to collect the information and evidence suggested earlier.
If you are considering making a claim to an employment tribunal, get advice straight away. You must normally make a claim within three months of the date when the discrimination or harassment took place.
Going to court
If you're being harassed because of your religion or belief, there may be legal action you can take besides going to an employment tribunal. You will need to get advice about this.
Other types of discrimination
As well as discrimination because of your religion, you could be treated unfairly for other reasons, for example, because of your race, ethnic origin, nationality, because you're a woman or have a disability.
If you think you've been treated unfairly for more than one reason, make sure you raise all the issues if you make a complaint.
Citizens Advice Bureaux give free, confidential, impartial and independent advice to help you solve problems. To find your nearest CAB, including those that give advice by e-mail, click on nearest CAB. You can also look under C in the phone book.
ACAS has produced “A guide on Religion or Belief and the Workplace”. See www.acas.org,uk/publications, or phone the ACAS publications order line: 0870 242 9090.
ACAS also operates a helpline providing information and advice about employment issues: 0845 747 4747 (textphone 0845 606 1600).
Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)
If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline. The helpline number is 0800 444 205.
Is that discrimination?
Is that discrimination? is a website produced by Advicenow. It has information on how to tackle discrimination in the workplace. It also features a problem page and case studies about discrimination. Go to www.isthatdiscrimination.org.uk.
Extract of factsheet available at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/
Copyright © 2002-2012 Citizens Advice. All rights reserved Registered charity no: 279057 Company no: 1436945 England
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We would like to thank the Citizen's Advice Bureau for allowing us to use this factsheet. Further factsheets can be downloaded from this website:
Citizens Advice - work factsheets: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/
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