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Menopause and the workplace

03 October 2018

We understand menopause has been a long-ignored issue in the workplace and it may not be a comfortable topic to discuss with a manager. It’s surprising in today’s day and age, menopause is overlooked in the workplace.

Here we highlight two cases where women have been discriminated against as a result of their menopausal transition.

In Merchant vs BT plc, Ms Merchant was dismissed for poor performance, even though, she had given her manager a doctor’s letter explaining that she was “going through menopause which can affect her level of concentration at times”.

BT’s performance management policy required investigations to take place, however in breach of this, the manager chose not to carry out any investigations of her symptoms.

The employment tribunal upheld her claims of direct sex discrimination and unfair dismissal and held that the manager would never have adopted “this bizarre and irrational approach with other non-female-related conditions”.

In Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, Ms Davies was found to have been unfairly dismissed and subjected to disability discrimination.

The judge found that Ms Davies had been dismissed “because of something arising in consequence of her disability”. She suffered from transition symptoms which included heavy bleeding which meant she had to work near a bathroom as she needed to change her sanitary towel regularly as well other symptoms.

It was held that her employer failed to consider that her “conduct was affected by her disability”. She was subsequently reinstated to her role, with back pay, as well as being awarded compensation for injury to feelings.

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