Unfair treatment at work can take many forms. If you think you have been treated unfairly, you need to know what you can do about it, and how to report it.

Check your employer’s policy on unfair treatment at work

Your staff handbook should contain a clear procedure to follow. It may also have advice about different types of unfair treatment and whether it amounts to something serious, such as discrimination.

Consider talking to the person concerned

The first thing to consider is whether you are able to talk to the person who has treated you unfairly. This may not always be appropriate or possible. However, the person concerned may not always realise that their behaviour is a problem.

If you do speak to them, you will need to explain why their behaviour is inappropriate. However, you must remain calm, and stick to the facts.

Employee discussing unfair treatment at work with a colleague

Raise the matter informally

If you don’t want to speak to the person concerned directly, you can raise the matter informally with your line manager – provided they are not the source of the issue.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your manager, or they are the one treating you unfairly, identify another manager, someone more senior, or an HR representative.

There are no written rules for how this conversation should happen. You may just want to chat or have a formal recorded meeting. Alternatively, you could speak to your trade union representative if you have one.

Before and after an informal meeting

Prior to the meeting, it may be useful to consider and note down what you want to say. You may also have evidence you could bring, such as screenshots or emails.

You could also bring someone to the meeting with you. However, your employer must agree to this unless it’s stated in your handbook.

Finally, think about solutions and what you would like as an outcome.

At the meeting itself, you should be given a chance to explain the situation, but your employer or manager should also be given a chance to speak.

At this stage, the goal is to reach a mutually agreed solution. However, be aware that this isn’t always possible.

Remember to take some notes of what happened and what was said at the meeting.

Female employee printing documentary evidence of unfair treatment at work to present at a meeting

Making a formal complaint about unfair treatment at work

If matters don’t improve, or are so serious that an informal complaint is not sufficient (e.g. in the case of whistleblowing or some form of assault) the next stage is to raise a formal complaint.

Again, check the employee’s handbook to see what it says about the procedure for this. Both you and your employer should follow this procedure. If there isn’t one, the ACAS Code of Practice should be applied.

Put the facts in writing. Be sure to state that this is a formal complaint and give it to your manager or someone in HR. Do this as soon as possible.

Your employer should invite you to a meeting as soon as possible, and normally within five days. You have the right to take someone with you to this meeting, such as a colleague or trade union representative.

As with an informal meeting, consider what you want to say in advance and what evidence you have. Your employer should let you know the outcome soon after the meeting – often within 24 hours.

Appealing the decision

If the formal meeting doesn’t resolve the matter in a way you’re happy with, you can appeal.

Inform your employer. They should arrange an appeal meeting as soon as possible. The employer’s representative should be someone different and more senior than before.

You also have the right to bring a colleague or trade union representative with you to this meeting.

Your employer should let you know the outcome as soon as is practical after the meeting.

Escalating a case relating to unfair treatment at work

If you’re still not happy, the next stage may be to issue a claim at an employment tribunal. Most claims are then referred to mediation to try and resolve the matter without the need for a hearing.

employee discussing unfair treatment case details with a representative at a formal meeting

Seeking professional advice regarding unfair treatment

Unfair treatment cases will inevitably present or touch upon sensitive and emotive issues, which can result in stress and complication. Seeking legal advice prior to, or while raising, a case is therefore a practical step in understanding and presenting your complaint.

At Springhouse, our team of experienced employment law solicitors have the knowledge and expertise to help you understand your situation and assist with putting forward your complaint to your employer.

Whether you are the victim of discrimination or need to take the final additional step of seeking redress at tribunal, our team will provide you with the pragmatic advice and legal insight you need to represent yourself fairly and accurately.

For an initial conversation about your circumstances, get in touch today.

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