If you think you've been unfairly dismissed, it can be hard to know what you can do about it. In actual fact there are several steps you can take to make a complaint against unfair dismissal. The first step is always to check that your dismissal has been unfair. If you were dismissed on grounds of race, religion, gender, or age, you can make a case for unfair dismissal. You can also make a case for unfair dismissal if your dismissal was related to your membership of a trade union, whistle-blowing, trying to take action on health and safety grounds, or for making sure your rights as an employee were observed.
Step One: Make an Appeal The first step if you feel you have been unfairly dismissed is to lodge an appeal against dismissal with your employer. They may have a specific grievance procedure for you to follow. If you are a member of a trade union, you can ask your union representative for advice, and ask them to accompany you to any meetings you may have. You don't always need a representative, so if you aren't a member of a union, you should still lodge an appeal. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the facts of your case, and remain calm and professional. In some cases, it might be difficult to lodge an appeal or open a dialogue with your employer - if it is a small company, or if your dismissal was acrimonious, it can be hard. However, an employment tribunal will expect you to have attempted to resolve the dispute personally before taking legal steps, so it is important to try.
Step Two: Try Mediation If your appeal was unsuccessful, or you weren't able to make one, then you might want to try mediation. Mediation is an informal way to resolve disputes without resorting to legal or official procedures. An entirely objective and neutral third party is brought in to facilitate discussion of the issue in dispute. It is really important that the mediator is completely neutral - you can contact an organisation like the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) who offer advice and mediation services in employment disputes.
Step Three: Get Legal Advice Sadly, sometimes mediation isn't able to resolve the dispute, and you may wish to contact a solicitor. A solicitor will be able to advise you on the legal steps available, and help you if you decide to take your employer to an employment tribunal. A tribunal has the power to award compensation or command your employer to reinstate you. A solicitor can also advise you as to whether you are able to make a claim against your employer on other grounds - for example, if you were dismissed on grounds of race, age, religion, or gender, you may be able to file an additional claim against them for discrimination.
The most important thing to remember is that if you are going to take your employer to an employment tribunal, you must do so within three months of the dismissal, so it's important to act fast. Whether you resolve it with an appeal, or end up seeking legal advice, there are steps to take if you've been unfairly dismissed.