Hopefully this won’t ever happen, but if you do find yourself in a situation where you feel you have been unlawfully treated at work, you can make a discrimination claim at an employment tribunal and if this is the case there are time limits during which you need to make your claim.
The normal time limit for making your discrimination claim at an employment tribunal is 3 months less one day from the date when the discrimination happened. But before making your claim you should put a request in to ACAS, who will then offer you the chance to try and settle the dispute using early conciliation, which is a free service. To avoid going to court, most people and employers choose to take part in the early conciliation process to settle their workplace dispute, the conciliator will talk through the issues with you or your representative and work with you and your employer to see if a resolution can be found.
If you choose to take advantage of the early conciliation process, don’t worry, the time limit for raising a claim is paused and extended for the duration of the early conciliation period.
Situations where you may choose to make a claim maybe in situations of unfair dismissal, discrimination or contractual breaches such as unfair deductions from your pay. When the time limit starts, can in some instances be difficult to identify, but in any of these situations the time limit will generally start to run from when the decision was made, not when you were told about it. If in a situation of discrimination, it takes place over a period of time, the time limit starts to run at the end of that period. If you’re dismissed, it’s much more straight forward and the time limit simply starts to run from the date your employment is terminated.
An employment tribunal will have the final say as to whether your claim was brought in time and will consider any links between incidents of discrimination, the evidence of an ongoing situation and whether there is a continuing relationship between you and your employer.
Although time limits for bringing a claim in the employment tribunal are quite strictly enforced, an employment tribunal does have discretion to extend the time limits where it thinks necessary to do so and fair to both you and your employer. In making this decision, an employment tribunal will consider the reasons for the delay, whether the delay affects the evidence and your actions once you knew you may be taking action.
If you do make a claim it is important that you try to get as much information about your legal rights as possible first.