Caragh Bailey
5 min read

What is Victimisation?

Victimisation at work is when you are treated badly or unreasonably, or, you suffer a detriment by your employer or colleagues for carrying out a 'protected act'. This includes supporting someone else's protected act and even being suspected of making, or intending to make a protected act. It is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010. In more simple terms, it is unfair treatment that you are subjected to as a result of reporting discrimination or wrongdoing at work. It shouldn’t happen, but it does.

Detriment – Being put in a worse position or suffering a disadvantage.

These protected acts are;
  • Making a complaint or claim of discrimination under The Equality Act 2010.
  • Supporting or giving evidence to a claim or complaint.
  • Whistleblowing.
  • Reporting someone at work has done something unlawful.
  • Refusing to carry out directions from a manager that you believe to be unlawful or fraudulent.
  • Taking a claim to an Employment tribunal.
  • Reporting problems regarding health and safety at work, such as insufficient PPE.

Examples of victimisation;

  • Your colleague has raised a complaint of discrimination or harassment in the workplace against your employer, and you then make a statement in evidence to support this complaint. Your employer then starts to penalise you or treat you unfairly.
  • Your employer threatens to dismiss you after catching wind that you might support your colleagues claim of discrimination or harassment for but have not yet done so.
  • You have refused direct orders to forge paperwork that you believe to be fraudulent, you are dismissed for insubordination.
  • You have supported a claim of discrimination or harassment by a senior employer and are subsequently denied a promotion for no reason. This causes you a detriment by not receiving the promotion and may amount to unlawful victimisation.
  • You are subjected to unfair workloads, or impossible work tasks due to your involvement in a claim or complaint off discrimination or harassment.
  • Rumours, insults and humiliating comments from other staff members towards you based on a claim or complaint made of discrimination or harassment.

Read more on the above terms

Are you legally protected from victimisation?

Unlawful victimisation is protected under the Equality Act 2010. To make a claim, you must be able to show that you have suffered a disadvantage as a result of carrying out a protected act, see above. It doesn't have to be a complaint about your own discrimination and you don’t have to have a protected characteristic yourself. Unlike raising a claim of discrimination the time limit does not begin when the discriminatory act occurred. Your time limit for raising a claim begins when the act or behaviour which victimises you occurs. For example, if you raised a complaint of sexual harassment by your manager, and 6 months later you are placed on an employment improvement programme, you can still claim for victimisation for up to three months from the date you are placed on the programme, even though the protected act took place 6 months ago.

Have you suffered detriment as a result of your protected act?

Victimisation after end of employment
Victimisation may even happen when employment has ceased. For example; you are given a poor reference by a previous employer or refused a reference completely without reason. This includes your previous employer slandering your name to a potential new employer or members of their workforce in order to hinder your career.
If you can show that this is a result of your protected act, you can make a claim to the employment tribunal

Frequently Asked Questions
In order to make a claim, you must be able to prove that a protected act took place, and that you were directly victimised as a result. You must have evidence to support that you were victimised as a result of the Act and not some other reason.
Discrimination can be expressed through harassment which creates a threatening or hostile work environment. This is illegal if it is based on a protected characteristic. Victimisation is being treated unfairly because you have complained, intend to complain or have supported a complaint of discrimination or harassment in the workplace, or; you have made a protected disclosure as a Whistleblower.
You need to get your facts straight before making a claim. Should you act in bad faith and falsely accuse your employer, provide incorrect information or false information to support someone else’s claim, you will not be protected. However if you give information which you thought to be true even if it is later proved wrong, you may still be protected.

For example; You falsely accuse your employer of bullying in the workplace. The grievance that you raised was investigated and dismissed. You then feel you are being treated unfairly and raise a claim of victimisation against your employer. Because the protected out was found to be one in bad faith, you are not able to raise a claim.

Are you being victimised at work for Whistleblowing, or reporting discrimination?
You don't have to suffer in silence! our employment solicitors can help to make sure you get the best outcome. Get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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