The number of cases taken to employment tribunals in Britain increased by 15% to more than 130,000 in the past year, new figures showed today.

Most of the claims involved unfair dismissal, equal pay and sex discrimination, according to the Tribunals Service.

There were 44,491 claims for unfair dismissal, a similar number covering equal pay, 28,000 for sex discrimination, 5,500 for disability discrimination and 3,700 for race discrimination.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal heard 432 cases in the past year, a fall of 22%.

Jeanne Spinks, chief operating officer of the Tribunals Service, said: "The significant reason for the increase in employment tribunal cases in 2006-07 is a 155% increase in equal pay claims.

"We have set up two dedicated teams to process equal pay cases from NHS staff and have been working closely with our judiciary to ensure that all equal pay claims are progressed as efficiently as possible.

"Despite an overall increase in cases this year, we’ve also managed to reduce the waiting times for single cases appearing before employment tribunals."