Things to consider before making a complaint
If you decide you have a disability discrimination issue, you need to work out how you want to deal with it. Taking legal action is just one of several options.
Initial self-help options
Send a written complaint to the discriminating party. Request a reply informing them that if there is no reply within 14 to 21 days, you will take the matter further. This letter should include as much detail as possible, including:
- An explanation of your disability
- Details of what has happened to you
- How you were affected by the discriminatory event
- Dates the event occurred
- Any actions you took to bring the discriminatory event to the discriminator’s attention.
Take legal action in a different area of law, such as industrial relations law, consumer law, contract law, or the law of negligence.
Make a complaint through the internal grievance procedures of the organisation or company that is discriminating against you.
Make a complaint to an independent dispute-resolution body, such as an ombudsmen or complaints-handling scheme, if one exists in the area in which you are experiencing discrimination.
Make a complaint to a professional body that regulates the work of the person who is discriminating against you.
Have the matter dealt with through someone independent, such as a private mediator.
Be emotionally prepared
Taking legal action can be stressful. You may have to go over unpleasant events many times, in great detail.
Consider how this sort of stress might impact on your life, and what support you can find.
What remedy do I want?
Before you decide to take legal action, it is important to think about:
- What you want to get out of it
- Whether the desired remedy is available
- How long it may take
- Costs involved
Taking action under the law can achieve the following sort of outcomes, generally:
- Changes to policy or practice,
- Reversal of discriminatory action, for example job reinstatement or promotion,
- An apology, either publicly or privately,
- Compensation paid to you, for the loss or harm you have experienced because of discrimination.
Many of these outcomes are achieved through conciliation or negotiation, if the respondent agrees to do what you ask. If the matter goes to a court or tribunal, the remedies and orders made will be more limited. They may not agree to the remedy you seek, or make the orders you want. It is important to have realistic expectations of what type of orders may be made and amount of damages. You can only recover what you have lost.