Employment Solicitors - Unfair Dismissal Compensation Claims - UK Law

SOLICITORS HELPLINE: ☎ 0330 660 7004

An employment solicitor is a United Kingdom lawyer who deals with claims for compensation on behalf of employees or former employees against an employer who has acted contrary to law. Due to the complexity of the legislation a specialist employment solicitor usually only represents clients in claims where the Employment Tribunal has jurisdiction which includes :-

  • Racial harassment/discrimination/victimisation.
  • Sexual harassment/discrimination/victimisation.
  • Age discrimination.
  • Religion discrimination.
  • Disability discrimination.
  • Discrimination based on sexual orientation.
  • Pregnancy-related discrimination or other conditions unique to a particular gender.
  • Unfair dismissal.
  • Workplace bullying.
  • Redundancy.
  • False redundancy claimed as an excuse for unlawful dismissal.
  • Compromise agreements settling financial terms for dismissals.
  • Working time regulations.
  • Being forced to resign because of the offensive behaviour of others.

Our no win no fee employment solicitors deal with compensation claims arising throughout the UK as a result of employment disputes including redundancy, sexual and racial discrimination and harassment and wrongful, unfair or constructive dismissal on a no win no fee* basis. There are very short limitation periods regarding applications to the Employment Tribunal and advice from an employment solicitor should be obtained as soon as possible after termination of employment.

Any termination of employment must be reasonable and be carried out in a reasonable manner. An employer must usually issue warnings about unacceptable behaviour prior to termination. An employer is required to investigate thoroughly and be able to justify his actions and if he fails to do so a claim for unfair dismissal can be made to the Employment Tribunal which must be satisfied that the job termination was fair for one of five permitted reasons which are conduct, capability to do the work, redundancy, illegality or some other substantial reason. The period of employment must normally have been for one year or more.

Constructive dismissal arises as a result of a serious breach of the work contract by the employer which is unacceptable to the employee and entitles the employee to resign and claim compensation from the employer.

An employment solicitor is able to call upon numerous statutes and regulations that are designed to protect employees from unlawful actions by employers and by other employees including :-

  • Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Race Relations Act 1976
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1996
  • Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994
  • The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003

Our specialist employment solicitors deal with applications to the Employment Tribunal for compensation for unfair dismissal including sham redundancy, constructive dismissal and discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race or sex which includes harassment and victimisation. Our employment solicitors operate the no win no fee* scheme which means that you only pay legal charges if you win your case and you are awarded compensation. In the event that the claim is lost you pay nothing - we carry all of the financial risk. If you would like advice from a specialist lawyer on risk free compensation claims just call the helpline or email our offices. The lawyer who speaks to you on the telephone will advise on the liability of your employer and whether or not you have a viable case. You will be given an estimate of the amount of compensation that you are likely to be awarded in the event of a successful outcome and a timescale for the application. This advice is at no cost and without obligation and if you decide to proceed no further that is your right and we will not pursue the matter. The main grounds for applications to the Employment Tribunal are outlined below however this list is not exhaustive and your particular circumstances may also warrant a claim.

Constructive Dismissal


Constructive Dismissal occurs when an employer makes the situation at work so difficult that an employee cannot stand it any longer and feels that they have been forced to resign. Constructive dismissal is a form of unfair dismissal with exactly the same remedies following an application to an industrial tribunal. In order to prove constructive dismissal it must be shown that an employer effectively committed a serious breach of the contract of employment and that you were forced to leave against your will. Constructive dismissal may be precipitated by an abusive employer, failure to control co-workers unreasonable behaviour, reduction in pay, an unfair demotion, changes in the conditions of employment including a new location, an unexpected transfer to night shift or making employees work in dangerous conditions. A successful constructive dismissal claim before an Employment Tribunal may consist of just one serious incident or may be as a result of a sequence of lesser incidents. If you are thinking of handing in your notice and claiming compensation for constructive dismissal before an Employment Tribunal it is essential that you speak to an employment solicitor before doing so as you may be required to go through certain procedures prior to resignation, in order to strengthen your constructive dismissal case. You may be required to speak to a line manager, HR, an employee representative or ACAS about the problem or it may be necessary to instigate grievance procedures and mediation prior to resignation, to ensure success before the Employment Tribunal.

Unfair Dismissal


Unfair Dismissal occurs when the termination of employment is unlawful. Unfair dismissal may occur if the employer did not have a fair reason for dismissal or where the employer did not follow the correct process. Our employment solicitors are able to advise on numerous situations relating to termination of employment which may be unlawful including dismissal for the following reasons; before, during or after business transfers, unfair selection for redundancy, on the grounds of pregnancy or maternity rights, in connection with disciplinary or grievance hearings, relating to your working time, relating to part-time or fixed-term work, relating to trade union reasons, during an industrial dispute, relating to the national minimum wage, relating to activities as an occupational pension scheme trustee, for taking action on health and safety grounds, relating to activities as an employee representative or relating to tax credits.

Employees have the right to :-

  • not to be discriminated against due to gender, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age
  • a written statement of employment particulars
  • request flexible working arrangements
  • a minimum notice period
  • a written statement of employment particulars
  • maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • time off for antenatal care
  • an itemised pay statement
  • parental leave
  • time off for dependants
  • time off for recognised public duties
  • protection against unlawful deductions from wages
  • remuneration during suspension on medical grounds
  • refuse to do shop or betting work on a Sunday
  • guaranteed pay when work is not available for you
  • make a public interest disclosure or 'blowing the whistle'

Discrimination

If you believe that you were subjected to biased treatment in your place of work that was based on race, sex, age, disability or sexual orientation you might have a discrimination compensation claim that is actionable by our specialist no win no fee employment solicitors. In order to make a determination of discrimination, intent is not important, normally if the act or acts are determined to be damaging and produce unfavourable treatment, the intent to do harm does not need to be established.

Improper or illegal acts are distinguished as either Indirect or Direct:

    Direct Discrimination:

      Direct discrimination points to individuals of a select group receiving certain privileges, such as promotion or better working conditions over equally qualified persons in the same position or those that are denied promotions or privileges. Acts of persecution or provocation by co-workers or employers can also “direct discrimination”.

    Indirect Discrimination:

      Indirect discrimination is the occurrence of employment policies that appear to be impartial at first glance but on further examination impede those of certain backgrounds from getting a desired position. Some policies are therefore deliberately enacted to preclude the application for certain positions by certain sets of people.

In some cases, “positive discrimination” is allowed due to a certain race or sex being an under-represented minority (UNM) within an organisation or where an actor needs to be a certain ethnicity or sex to fill a particular role for a film roll or on TV.

Harassment

Harassment is conduct which is offensive, unwelcome and unreasonable which results in a humiliating, hostile or intimidating environment at work.

    Racial Harassment

    • Assault with no obvious injury which may include minor incidents such as pushing.
    • Assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
    • Verbal abuse including telling abusive racist jokes.
    • Displaying graffiti or literature or correspondence or emails etc.
    • Sending offensive correspondence or emails or displaying offensive websites on computer screens
    • Racist literature left on public view or deliberately left lying around in the workplace
    • Intimidation or bullying in the workplace based on race
    • Nuisance activities such as disruption of the working environment because of race.

    Sexual Harassment

    • requests for sexual favours
    • suggestive remarks or gestures
    • insensitive jokes
    • lewd comments
    • innuendos
    • fondling or touching
    • forwarding inappropriate emails
    • pestering for attention
    • unwelcome advances
    • accessing pornographic websites
    • threats of, or actual, sexual violence
    • displays of unacceptable material including pin-up calendars or graffiti

Victimisation

Victimisation occurs when an employer or co-worker treats another worker offensively or abusively merely because that person has either started proceeding in an Employment Tribunal or has intimated such proceedings or has volunterred to be a witness in proceeding before an Employment Tribunal. This behaviour is considered to be an attempted perversion of justice and damages awards against employers are therefore unlimited.

Workplace Bullying

Employees should be protected from bullying and harassment in the workplace. Typical accounts of bullying are:

  • continuous critical remarks from a fellow employee in reference to an efficient staff member for no reason
  • belittling a worker by changing normal duties or giving trivial responsibilities much below their aptitude and abilities
  • setting an individual up to fail, by assigning a complex and demanding workload or setting impossible time limits
  • berating of, or shouting at a co-worker, when no managerial or supervisory connection exist between the two
  • never-ending nitpicking regarding petty issues or groundless complaints about a worker’s quality of product or output results
  • habitually and intentionally leaving a worker out of activities
  • frequently making someone the object of antics, pranks or jokes
  • attacks on a person’s character or disclosing intimate information about someone, even when such information may be false or has no effect on duties or obligations at work

Bullying in the workplace can be a constant source of apprehension and pain that damages an individual’s health both physically and psychologically. Victims often suffer migraines, insomnia, high blood pressure and ulcers as well as a variety of added ailments or psychologically issues. Being constantly exposed to bullying can prove detrimental to the productivity and efficiency of the worker. Any employee who is being bullied is entitled to instruct a solicitor to take their case to the Employment Tribunal for redress.

Employers who ignore or neglect bullying in their business will face downturns in profitability and productivity due to:-

  • lost motivation in workers caused by reduced morale
  • a reduction in quality and quantity in work results
  • an increase of departures of trained and experienced workers
  • worker absences & time lost due to additional stress and poor health
  • compensatory damages and or penalties demanded by the Employment Tribunal

Contained within the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 are provisions that require employers to take care of the safety, health and welfare to their workers. Those employers who do not comply with the Act, could be judged in both the Civil Court and in the Employment Tribunal as negligent and therefore in breach of contract. The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 declares that certain instances of bullying in the workplace can be judged as criminal in nature, which could result in fines or imprisonment, not just for the offender but also for management if the situation was allowed to continue unimpeded.

Workers enduring bullying in the workplace should, in the presence of their supervisor, directly appeal in a non-threatening manner for the offender to put an end to the bullying If a direct request to cease fails you should file a formal complaint with management or a union representative and then promptly contact a solicitor who handles employment law.

To assist your solicitors to claim compensation, keep records or a log of the incidents of bullying, with particular details such as, dates and times of the incident and the location. If the incident took place outside of the workplace, but may have been related to work, record the names of everyone involved including witnesses and keep a detailed written record of the incident. Even seemingly trivial jokes or antics, especially those related to sexual innuendos or racial slurs, could establish an abusive pattern of systematic bullying.

Common Employment Tribunal Claims

    Age Discrimination laws are in place to ensure that there is no denial of employment or application of unequal opportunity for training or promotion because of age. The law protects all age groups including both young and old from age discrimination, harassment and victimisation. All aspects of work are covered including both employment and an application for prospective employment. Areas covered by the legislation include recruitment, employment terms and conditions, promotion and transfer, training and dismissal. There are however certain circumstances where positive discrimination is lawful based on objective justification particularly on health and safety grounds. Employers must make sure that their policies do not discriminate either directly or indirectly on the basis of age:-

    • the default retirement age of 65 has been abolished
    • there is no upper age limit for an application for unfair dismissal
    • there is no upper or lower age limit for training opportunities
    • length of service benefits cannot require more than 5 years employment to qualify
    • it is illegal to impose upper or lower age limits for any job opportunity

    If you believe that you have been discriminated at work on the basis of your age, a solicitor can make an application to the Employment Tribunal for compensation or where appropriate re-instatement. Compensation awards are unlimited and our solicitors use the no win no fee scheme.

    Disability Discrimination occurs if an employer treats an employee less favourably because of a disability. In addition employers are required by law to make reasonable adjustments to the working environment to ensure that those with a disability are treated fairly and have an equal opportunity compared to those who do not have a disability. The normal process is to make a complaint to line management and thereafter to HR if appropriate, before invoking the grievance procedure. If matters are still not resolved an employment law solicitor can make an application to an Employment Tribunal for compensation even if the disabled person has voluntarily terminated employment on the basis of constructive dismissal which is a type of unfair dismissal. Not all disabilities are covered under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, especially those which are self-inflicted and if you are contemplating a complaint or a grievance or an application to an Employment Tribunal you would be well advised to obtain legal advice from an employment solicitor before resignation or other precipitous action. It is worth noting that under the Equality Act 2010 employers are required by law to answer questions posed by the aggrieved employee submitted on a 'discrimination and other prohibited conduct' form, the response to which may strengthen a claim for compensation.

    Sex Discrimination is determined by the Equality Act 2010 that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex which applies to recruitment, employment terms and conditions, pay and benefits, training, promotion and transfer opportunities, redundancy and dismissal. In addition men and women are entitled to equal pay if they carry out the same or similar duties, work rated as equivalent in a job evaluation study by the employer or work of equal value. Positive sex discrimination is allowed in certain circumstances that have been objectively evaluated.

    Sexual Harassment is subjective and relates to unwelcome behaviour based on gender or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. There are numerous situations that may be described as sexual harassment including demeaning remarks, indecent comments, enquiries about sexual habits and requests for sexual favours. In all cases there is a requirement that the unlawful behaviour was with the intent or had the effect of violating dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. An employer may be held to be liable for behaviour of co-workers even though the employer was not aware of the conduct.

    Race Discrimination is dealt with by the The Race Relations Act 1976 which protects individuals from discrimination based on race, colour, nationality, ethnicity and national origin. It matters not that the perpetrator intended to offend, merely that the person at whom the behaviour was aimed was offended. In most cases racial discrimination is a course of action with numerous small incidents however either a series of insults or a single major incident is sufficient to base a claim of race discrimination before the Employment Tribunal.

    Racial Harassment is any type of unwanted behaviour linked to race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins that may range from mildly offensive comments to serious physical assault. Mere prejudice alone is not sufficient to allege racial harassment. Unfortunately there is no specific legislation that relates to racial harassment which is determined following consideration of the following legislation :-

    Redundancy which may be lawful, may incur a compensatory award dependent on length of service, salary and age, occurs when an employee who is surplus to requirements is dismissed. Some employers dismiss on the grounds of redundancy which is a sham in order to avoid paying compensation in an unfair dismissal compensation claim before the Employment Tribunal. If you have been made the subject of a sham redundancy and you know that the position remains and will be filled in due course by another person, our employment solicitors can take action for unfair dismissal before the Employment Tribunal.

    Bullying is closely associated with harassment and victimisation. It is extremely difficult to categorise however harassment is usually more overt and is often considerably more physical than bullying which may take the form of constant verbal insults, excessive demands, unfair manipulation, unfair criticism from a manager or co-worker, often in front of others with the intent of affecting promotion, causing resignation or instigating disciplinary procedures often adversely affecting the victims health and mental wellbeing. If you have resigned because of bullying our employment law solicitors will advise you about an application for compensation to the Employment Tribunal.

    Religious Discrimination is dealt with by the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 which protects employees from discrimination on the grounds of religion, religious belief or similar philosophical belief. Whilst the definitions in the act will cover most major religions and many of the lesser religions it will be up to an Employment Tribunal following application by an employment law solicitor on behalf of a client to clarify which allegedly religious orders are protected under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003. The statute covers all aspects of employment including recruitment, training, promotion and transfers.

    Victimisation occurs in regards to age, disability, race, religious and sex discrimination and refers to the situation where a victim of discrimination has made application to the Employment Tribunal and is thereafter subject to further discriminatory behaviour either from the perpetrator or the employer or others acting on their behalf with the intend being either retribution or intimidation to persuade the applicant to withdraw the claim. An employment law solicitor can ensure that this further discrimination is made the subject of a secondary claim resulting in a further award of compensation.

Redundancy

Redundancy occurs if the termination of employment is due to the business closing down, or if the business continues and there is reduced need for workers of the employee's type. The employee must have been continuously employed by the employer for 2 years at the date of the termination however some categories of employees are excluded from making a claim.

Employment Tribunal

The first step by an employment solicitor is to attempt to negotiate a settlement with the employer. If no agreement can be reached, then it's time to make an application to an Employment Tribunal which is less formal and has more relaxed procedures than a typical court and renders decisions on employment claims. The tribunal is made up of three members. There is a legally qualified chairman as well as two lay members from an employer's association or trade union. You have the right to appeal the decision made by the Employment Tribunal, but take note that appeals are only heard in London, Belfast and Edinburgh.

The Employment Tribunal has the authority to award damages, order that the employee be reinstated or both. Note that there is no statutory cap on the amount of compensation that can be awarded for some of the employment rights claims listed above. Legal costs are not awarded to the winner and must be paid from the compensation received as a result of the successful claim. Remember, though, with our no win no fee policy, you will not be charged if your claim is not successful.

Compromise Agreement

If an employer and employee wish to terminate their relationship on agreed terms it is advisable to enter into a compromise / settlement agreement drafted by a specialist employment solicitor to provide certainty for both parties. It is important that an employee fully understands the content and any implications of such an agreement and it is a requirement by law, contained in the Employment Rights Act 1996 that advice on the terms of the proposed settlement agreement is obtained from a professional person which usually means a specialist solicitor or a qualified trade’s union adviser. In most cases the employer will pay or contribute towards the legal expenses incurred in receiving the legal advice on the agreement.

Time Limits

Claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination or for re-instatement must be lodged by employment claims solicitors at an Employment Tribunal within three months of the action complained of failing which they will usually become time barred and the opportunity to claim compensation may be lost forever. Lodging a grievance may extend the period by another 3 months. The maximum sum that can be awarded for redundancy and for unfair dismissal is capped at a maximum figure however there is no limit on awards for breach of contract, sexual, racial, age or disability discrimination or sexual or racial harassment.

Employment Solicitors

Tribunal procedure was initially designed to be conducted by lay people and in many simple matters before the tribunal, there are no professional representatives. As a general rule, the costs of legal representation in a tribunal is not recoverable from the losing side, as it is in a court of law, however, tribunals now consider much higher value claims than when they were first instituted and there are many claims where professional representation is advisable even though the costs cannot be claimed back. For employees, specialist employment law solicitors offer to act for you on a contingency fee basis which means using the no win no fee scheme. This means asking for no fee if you lose your claim and agreeing a fee based on a percentage of your award if you win. A lawyer must be of the view that your claim has good prospects both of success and of ultimately being paid by the employer. If you would like advice from a specialist on risk free employment compensation claims just call the helpline or email our offices. You will receive free advice without any further obligation whatsoever.

Our employment solicitors will give free initial advice on the merits of your potential claim, how much it might be worth and the procedure to protect your legal right to compensation. Expert lawyers will clearly explain to you about the time limits applicable to these cases and will give clear unequivocal advice about how the claim will be financed. The no win no fee scheme is available which means that legal costs are only charged in the event that the case is won. If the case is lost there is no charge whatsoever.

All UK solicitors are regulated by the Law Societies in England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and can provide legal representation before Employment Tribunals throughout the United Kingdom. If you would like a free assessment from an expert employment solicitor on the merits of your potential compensation claim just use the helpline.

Claims for damages for unfair dismissal and discrimination or for re-instatement that cannot be settled by an employment claim solicitor as a result of negotiation are not dealt with by a court of law but are considered in a relatively informal manner by an Employment Tribunal which consists of three members being the Chairman who is legally qualified and will preside over the proceedings together with two other members one of whom is nominated by an employers association and the other by a trades union.

Applications to determine the amount of compensation payable for redundancy and constructive or unfair dismissal can raise complex legal issues and it is essential to obtain advice as soon as possible. Applications are made to the Employment Tribunal which was previously called the Industrial Tribunal. The Employment Tribunal has wide powers to award compensation or to order the employer to reinstate the employee back to his former job.

Our employment solicitors deal exclusively in employment matters in London and throughout the UK and are able to pursue or negotiate claims and can provide representation anywhere in the United Kingdom. If you would like to talk confidentially to an experienced lawyer just send an email, use the helpline or send the contact form.

Data Protection

We take special care to protect your personal and private information. The information we collect is stored on a secure, password-protected hard drive. All of your information is deleted from our files once your claim is resolved. Errors in our data will be corrected at your request. We never release client information to third parties not involved with the case at hand. The Data Protection Act governs our handling of client information. This act requires that your data is:

  • Protected.
  • Accurate.
  • Processed lawfully.
  • Safely retained for only the prescribed amount of time.
  • Complete, relevant and not embellished.
  • Acquired in accordance with the client's rights.

HELPLINE: ☎ 0330 660 7004