Asking an employer questions about your discrimination case
The law which says you mustn’t be discriminated against is called the Equality Act 2010. If you’ve been discriminated against, you may be able to do something about it. For example, you can make a complaint or raise a grievance against your employer. Or you can make a discrimination claim in the employment tribunal.
To help you decide if you've been discriminated against and what action to take, you can ask your employer for information about the way you were treated.
Read this page to find out how to get information about your discrimination problem.
Why should you ask your employer questions about the discrimination?
Asking your employer questions about the way you were treated can help you decide if you've been discriminated against. It can also help you decide if you want to take legal action. You can use the employer’s answers to support your grievance or discrimination claim in the employment tribunal.
What questions should you ask?
You can ask any questions you think are useful to understand why the unfair treatment happened. It’s best to try and make the questions as specific as possible and not ask the employer to provide large amounts of irrelevant information.
Guidance on asking and responding to questions
The Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has produced guidance on Asking and responding to questions about discrimination in the workplace.
The guidance sets out six steps you can follow to prepare for and seek information from the employer:
- give your details and the details of the employer who’s discriminated against you
- identify the reason you’ve been discriminated against. The Equality Act sets out nine protected characteristics - for example, sex, race or disability. It’s only unlawful discrimination if you experience unfair treatment because of one or more of these characteristics.
- describe the unfair treatment - ask your employer if they agree with your account and if not, why?
- identify the type of discrimination you’ve experienced - for example, direct discrimination or harassment
- try to explain why you think your treatment was unlawful - what did your employer do or say which makes their behaviour unlawful under the Equality Act?
- think of any additional information you want to ask your employer for - for example, statistical information or if they have any policies about equality and discrimination.
There's a template you can use to ask the questions in Annex 1 of the guidance.
Sending your questions to the employer
It’s always best to try and sort out your problem informally if possible. There is no specific time when you should send your questions to the employer but it may be a good idea to wait until your make a written complaint or raise a grievance. If you send your questions too early, it may stop the employer from openly discussing the problem with you. If you have any specific questions about the discrimination you can also raise these during an informal discussion with your employer first.
Make sure you:
- keep a copy of the questions form and any correspondence you send your employer
- check the employer has received the questions.
If you send the form by post, it’s best to send it my recorded delivery so you have evidence that the questions were received by the employer.
The employer should respond within a reasonable time but it is useful to ask the employer to write back to you within a specified time period such as within 14 days.
- You can see the full guidance on the Acas website at www.acas.org.uk
Does the employer have to answer your questions?
The employer doesn’t have to answer your questions. But if they don’t answer your questions, the tribunal may be able take this into account when making a decision on whether you’ve been unlawfully discriminated against.
- Discrimination at work - getting evidence for an employment tribunal case
- Before you take action discrimination at work
Other useful information
Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)
If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.
Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)
You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website.
Acas works with both employers and employees to solve workplace problems.
You can phone the Acas helpline on: 0300 123 1100 and speak to an adviser about your employment problems. The helpline is open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
You can find useful information about how to sort out work-place problems on the Acas website at