Unfair Dismissal Solicitors - No Win No Fee Employment Claim Lawyers

SOLICITORS HELPLINE: ☎ 0345 515 0362

Our unfair dismissal solicitors deal with claims for unlawful dismissal, discrimination, harassment and victimisation using the no win no fee* scheme. We deal with a wide range of employment law matters and also give advice on compromise agreements and on redundancy including sham redundancy which may become a claim for unfair dismissal in the event that the redundancy was not genuine or that the redundancy was not properly dealt with by the employer. If you have a potential employment claim then our unfair dismissal solicitors are able to fully advise you.

Unfair dismissal occurs when an employee is dismissed for reasons that are unlawful and unreasonable. What is unlawful and unreasonable can be a complex legal issue and after hearing your personal details our unfair dismissal solicitors will be able to advise you on whether or not you have a potential claim that is likely to be successful. Our initial advice is not charged and you are under no obligation if you take our initial advice and decide to proceed no further.

Unfair Dismissal

Termination of employment that may be deemed as unfair dismissal includes :-

  • discrimination based on sex, race, religion, disability or age
  • employee taking maternity or paternity leave
  • refusal to work more than 48 hours per week
  • a medical condition that does not affect employment
  • membership or refusal to be a member of a trade union
  • some issues related to industrial action

Lawful Termination of Employment

Termination of employment that may be deemed as lawful and not unfair includes :-

  • An employee whose conduct is unacceptable which may include regular absence, frequent late arrival, criminal conviction, drunken or abusive or aggressive behaviour.
  • An employee who is not able or capable of carrying out their job properly because of a lack of skill, training, knowledge, education or competence.
  • A genuine redundancy is a lawful reason for terminating employment and includes a situation where either the business closes down or there is a reduced need for workers with the employees skills.
  • Where continued employment of the individual concerned would be illegal or would be a breach of statutory duty.
  • In situations where some other substantial reason justifies the dismissal of the employee. The Employment Tribunal is given discretion in determining this issue.

Employment Tribunal

Employment compensation claims are dealt with by our unfair dismissal lawyers using the no win no fee scheme and in the event of initial negotiations failing to produce a result we will make an application to the Employment Tribunal within three months of the determination of employment. You pay no legal fee unless you are successful in your claim. The employment Tribunal is empowered to either award compensation or to instruct the employer to reinstate the employee to his previous employment with no degradation is position or salary.

Employees are protected by the common law which includes case law and by a wide range of legislation. Time is of the essence in employment claims and there are strict time limits that must be observed in all compensation claims intended to be dealt with before an Employment Tribunal. You should not delay in taking legal advice on unfair dismissal or your opportunity to claim compensation may be lost forever.

Workplace Discrimination

Employees have the right to be judged solely on their skills, abilities and work ethic. Factors such as race, age and gender should not affect decisions regarding who to recruit promote or transfer. Legislation has been enacted to enforce employee rights and hold employers accountable for any discrimination that takes place within their organisation. Discrimination on any of the following grounds is unlawful :-

  • race
  • gender
  • age
  • disability
  • pregnancy
  • sexual orientation
  • religion or belief
  • marital status

Discrimination can be direct, such as outright unfair or detrimental treatment. It can also be indirect, such as an unjustifiable policy or requirement that negatively affects one group of people more than others. Harassment is a third type of discrimination, which can involve bullying, threats, offensive comments, constant criticism or making someone the repeated butt of jokes. If you complain about discrimination in any of the areas listed above and are then treated unfavourably, you may have a claim for victimisation. The law protects employees who enforce their rights, and the rights of others, to equal opportunities in the workplace.

Race Discrimination

Individuals are protected from discrimination based on race, colour, nationality, ethnicity and national origin by the Race Relations Act 1976. This legislation is applicable in England, Scotland and Wales although not in Northern Ireland which has similar legislation of its own.

Self-employed persons, job applicants and contract workers are all protected by the Race Relations Act 1976. The statute protects this entire group of individuals from race discrimination, harassment and victimisation in the context of employment. All stages and aspects of employment are included within the reach of the legislation. The recruitment and application processes are covered which includes an employer refusing to hire a particular individual because of race or offering less favourable terms of employment. Various aspects of the employment itself, such as promotions and benefits are also covered. Dismissing an employee or refusing to renew a fixed-term contract because of race is another form of race discrimination.

It does not matter whether or not the individual committing the unlawful acts intended to offend. The measuring stick of race discrimination is whether or not the employee on the receiving end of the behaviour was offended or felt harmed, not whether the offender meant to cause the harm. The majority of the time, race discrimination consists of a series of inappropriate or offensive acts rather than a single incident. In some cases, however, a single incident can be so grievous that it is grounds for a claim of race discrimination on its own. In either case, the claimant will bring an action to the Employment Tribunal under the Race Relations Act 1976. There are both direct and indirect forms of race discrimination. Direct race discrimination occurs in a situation where an individual is treated unfavourably when compared to those around him because of his race. Indirect racial discrimination is more subtle, and the employer may try to disguise it by putting requirements in place that will heavily disadvantage one racial group over another.

In addition to race discrimination, the employee may also have a claim for race victimisation which when an employee suffers retribution for his participation in an action involving a violation of the Race Relations Act 1976. One type of race victimisation is when a person is treated less favourably than those around him because it is known than he intends to bring a claim under the statute. Another form of race victimisation occurs when the individual is treated unfavourably because he is providing evidence in a race discrimination case.

Compensation for successful claims of race discrimination is awarded by the Employment Tribunal. Note that the Tribunal has the discretion to award aggravated damages in cases where it finds the behaviour exceptionally abhorrent. There is no statutory cap on the amount of damages a claimant can receive in race discrimination cases meaning that damages awards in race discrimination cases are typically substantial.

Racial Harassment

Racial harassment is offensive behaviour or unfavourable treatment directed at an individual because of their race, ethnicity, colour, nationality or national origin. Race harassment encompasses everything from offensive comments to physical violence. The fact that a person is racially prejudiced is not enough to support a claim of race harassment. The claim must be based on specific illegal actions.

There is no single piece of legislation that fully encompasses all aspects of race harassment however there are several key statutes on which the Employment Tribunal bases its decisions :-

  • Race Relations Act 1976
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1996
  • Criminal Justice & Public Order Act 1994
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975

Racial harassment can be both physical and verbal. Often a case can be made on a single physical assault or damage done to the victim's personal property. Bullying, which is less physical in nature, can also qualify as race harassment. In instances of bullying, a series of incidents, while small on their own, continue occurring over a period of time to amount to a case for race harassment.

Any compensation awarded in a successful claim of race harassment must be paid by the employer. Depending on the circumstances, an employer may also be forced to pay the compensation even when the incident took place off the premises and after work hours. For example, for purposes of a race harassment case, a group of co-workers going to the pub after the end of their shift could be deemed an extension of the workplace. In order to escape liability in similar situations, the employer must show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent the illegal behaviour from occurring.

Sex Discrimination

The legislation that cover sexual discrimination is contained within :-

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975 - This legislation makes it illegal to treat someone differently because of their sex or marital status.
  • Equal Pay Act 1970 - Under the terms of this statute, an employer must pay men and women equally for doing the same job.
  • Equal Opportunities Commission Code of Practice 1985 – These rules requires employers to provide equal opportunities for both men and women in the workplace.
  • Employment Equality Regulations 2003 - These regulations protect individuals from employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation or preferences.

Sexual discrimination can occur in one of two ways. There is direct sexual discrimination and indirect sexual discrimination. Direct sexual discrimination is blatant, undeniable discriminatory behaviour whereby the employer outright treats a person less favourably than others because of that person's sex. Indirect sexual discrimination is more subtle. The employer tries to disguise the sexual discrimination by placing obstacles in the path of just one gender. For example, the employer might set an arbitrary height requirement so that fewer women than men will qualify for the job. These discriminatory rules and requirements amount to denying individuals equal employment opportunities.

Treating an employee in an inferior manner because of a condition unique to their gender is also considered sexual discrimination. One such example is pregnancy. It is illegal for an employer to terminate a woman's employment or otherwise treat her unfavourably because she is pregnant. She also cannot be dismissed from employment for attending antenatal doctor appointments.

In some situations, what is known as "positive" sexual discrimination is legal. For example, an employer is free to employ only women to serve as toilet attendants in a women's facility.

Sexual Harassment

Determining what qualifies as sex harassment is based on a subjective test. The individual experiencing the offensive behaviour decides whether or not it is inappropriate. Every individual has a different perspective on what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Because of this subjective component, sex harassment is often defined simply as "unwanted conduct based on sex affecting the dignity of women and men at work". Anyone who is being subjected to sexually inappropriate conduct of any kind should speak out about their objections. Should the offensive behaviour continue, then it is time to consult with a solicitor about bringing a sex harassment compensation claim before the Employment Tribunal.

At the present time, there is no single piece of legislation that covers all aspects of sex harassment. The Employment Tribunal instead relies on the mandates of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the EC Equal Treatment Directive 76/207 and the Employment Rights Act 1996. Some incidents may even qualify as criminal offences and lead to prosecution under the Protection From Harassment Act 1997. Victims of criminal harassment can bring a civil claim for damages in the County Court. If you need guidance you should consult a consult an unfair dismissal solicitor without delay.

Sex harassment takes many forms. The harassment can be physical in nature, including groping, fondling or unwanted touching. Harassment can also be verbal, such as unwelcome remarks about a person's appearance, lewd comments or threats. Here is a non-inclusive list of behaviour that the Employment Tribunal has ruled to be sex harassment in past cases :-

  • requests for sexual favours
  • sexual violence or threats of violence
  • fondling and inappropriate touching
  • making insensitive jokes
  • lewd gestures
  • suggestive or vulgar comments
  • constant pestering for attention
  • displaying inappropriate or sexually suggestive materials
  • accessing pornographic websites
  • making unwelcome sexual advances
  • forwarding inappropriate emails

Victimisation

Victimisation is when an individual who has made a complaint about discrimination is then treated detrimentally by their employer. Victimisation also includes treating someone detrimentally because they have announced an intention to make a complaint or because they are giving evidence in a discrimination complaint. Overall, victimisation is an act of retaliation.

Sometimes victimisation is blatant, such as harassment and threats. Other times it is more subtle, such as denying requests for overtime. It can also be perpetrated by the complainant's colleagues. In fact, it is even possible for victimisation to take place after the employment has ended. For example, the employer might retaliate by refusing to give the employee a reference.

Those suffering from victimisation in the workplace can bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal. There are limits on the amount of time you have to bring your claim. Employees who believe they are being victimised should contact a solicitor as soon as possible. The compensation awarded in victimisation cases is often substantial. Note, however that you must make a written complaint to your employer before making an application to the Employment Tribunal. An unfair dismissal solicitor can help you take the proper steps to preserve your rights to seek compensation.

Sham Redundancy

Unfortunately, there are times when an employer makes false claims of redundancy. Employers may try to use redundancy as a cover for terminating an employee when there are no reasonable grounds for the termination. These employers are trying to avoid the higher statutory compensation they would have to make for an unfair dismissal claim as opposed to one for redundancy. Should you find yourself in this sham redundancy situation, you can make an application to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal. The compensation awarded for unfair dismissal claims are typically much higher than that awarded in cases of redundancy.

Those seeking to claim a redundancy payment must meet certain criteria to qualify. First, the reason for the dismissal must fall into one of two categories. The employee must either have been dismissed due to the closing down of the entire business or the absence of a need for workers in the employee's current field. Also, to make a claim for a redundancy payment, the employee must have been continuously employed by the business for at least two years at the time of the termination.

Statute sets the maximum redundancy payment that a claimant can receive. Note, though, that some employers voluntarily pay more than the statutory cap. A specific formula is used to arrive at the amount of compensation the employee is entitled to. The calculation is based on a nominal capped maximum weekly pay. That amount is used regardless of whether the employee's actual weekly pay was higher. However, the amount will be lowered if the employee's weekly pay figure was less than the maximum capped figure.

Sometimes disputes over the proper amount of compensation arise. In the case of such disputes, the employee must make an application for rectification to the Employment Tribunal. It is important to act quickly because the application must be submitted within 6 months of the date of dismissal. In response to the application, the employer must present a detailed explanation of the calculations performed to arrive at the amount of the redundancy payment.

The dismissed employee cannot bring a claim for a redundancy payment if the employee refused an offer of alternative employment with no reasonable justification. However, the employee can still make a claim if the employment was refused in light of personal circumstances, such as the state of the employee's health and family commitments. Should the employee choose to accept the job, there is still a possibility that a claim can be made. The employee is allowed a 4-week trial period during which time he can assess the suitability of the alternative job. If the employee finds that the new position is unacceptable, he can resign and still be eligible to bring forth a claim.

Unfair Dismissal Solicitors

You are not required to work with a solicitor in order to make an application to the Employment Tribunal. Likewise, you are not required to have a solicitor present during any of the hearings. Note, however that there is no statutory limit on the amount of damages the Employment Tribunal can award in many types of claim. With so much money at stake, you should carefully consider whether you want to go without assistance from an experienced employment solicitor. Furthermore, employers virtually always hire highly skilled specialist lawyers to vigorously represent their interests. Without your own legal representation, you will be at a disadvantage.

Our unfair dismissal solicitors specialise in employment law. Making a claim is completely risk free because they utilise a no win no fee payment structure. If you’re not successful in obtaining compensation for your employment claim, then you pay absolutely no legal fees or expenses. They are qualified to negotiate and bring claims before the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal. If you believe that you have been the victim of an unfair dismissal, you should speak with a solicitor as soon as possible. Contact us today for free advice - just call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices. You will receive a no charge, no obligation consultation from a solicitor who specialises in no win no fee employment disputes.


SOLICITORS HELPLINE: ☎ 0345 515 0362


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