What are discrimination questionnaires and what will their abolition mean?
What are discrimination questionnaires?
Statutory Questionnaires have for a long time been used by claimants in discrimination cases. In discrimination cases it can be very difficult to get to the bottom of the employer’s state of mind when they committed the alleged acts, and whether this was tainted by discrimination. Questionnaires can be used to ask direct questions about this, and to obtain information about how other people have been treated, and whether there may be ‘institutional’ discrimination.
The rule used to be that the respondent had a certain period of time to respond to any questionnaires, (which themselves needed to have been raised within a certain period of time), and that any evasive answer could lead to adverse inferences being drawn against them. The formal process has now been abolished.
What will the abolition mean?
We do not believe this will make much difference in practice, as any failure to answer informal questions could itself lead to adverse inferences. Claimants will also be able to rely on the tribunal more and ask that they directly force the respondent to provide the information.
It is essential that any person bringing a discrimination claim considers raising an informal questionnaire, and our experienced solicitors would be pleased to provide assistance with this.