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Procedure in cases of discrimination

Updating author: Tina McKevitt


  • With effect from 6 April 2014, employees or job applicants who wish to obtain information from an employer in relation to potentially discriminatory treatment, may ask questions but there is no statutory obligation on the employer to respond to them. (See Questions about discrimination in the workplace)
  • With effect from 6 May 2014, prospective claimants who wish to commence relevant employment tribunal proceedings (which include claims relating to discrimination and equality of pay and/or terms) are subject to a mandatory requirement in relation to early conciliation through Acas. (See Early conciliation through Acas prior to the issue of employment tribunal proceedings)
  • There are strict time limits within which equal pay and discrimination claims have to be submitted to tribunal. (See Time limits)
  • Tribunal proceedings are instigated using the ET1 claim form. (See Beginning tribunal proceedings)
  • An employer's response to a claim must be filed on an ET3 form. (See Defending tribunal proceedings)
  • At any stage of the proceedings the tribunal may make a case management order on its own initiative or on an application by one of the parties. The types of order that may be made under the tribunal's case management powers include an order for additional information, written answers, disclosure, inspection and the attendance of a witness. (See Case management)
  • With effect from 6 April 2016, there are rules limiting the postponement of tribunal hearings. (See Postponements)
  • "Additional information" may be requested when either the claim form or the response form fails to give adequate details. (See Additional information and written answers)
  • Prior to the actual hearing of the case, either party may request disclosure of relevant documentation from the other side. (See Disclosure and inspection)
  • Sometimes it will be necessary to request a "witness order" to persuade a valuable witness to attend. (See Witness orders)
  • Preliminary hearings replaced case management discussions and pre-hearing reviews with effect from 29 July 2013. At a preliminary hearing the tribunal may, among other things, consider whether or not a claim or response should be struck out in whole or in part and make a deposit order. (See Preliminary hearings)
  • There are no strict rules of evidence; however, the procedures are formal and adversarial. (See Final hearings)
  • Following implementation of the Equality Act 2010, the statutory provisions about the reversal of the burden of proof apply to all protected characteristics. (See Burden of proof)
  • There is provision for the transfer of certain types of connected cases between an employment tribunal and a county or sheriff court. (See Conduct giving rise to separate proceedings)
  • Equal pay claims start just as other discrimination claims but the actual process of the hearing will vary depending on whether the claim is for equal value or like work. (See Equal value claims)
  • Costs are not normally awarded in employment tribunals but, in some circumstances, they can be awarded in respect of the costs of a legal representative or an award for preparation time can be made where a party is not legally represented. (See Costs)