Are menopausal employees entitled to special protection in the workplace?

The Claimant was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing on the basis that she had ‘knowingly misled’ the men about her medication being in the water and had bought the court into disrepute. Her appeal was rejected.  During the disciplinary process, an occupational health report found that Ms Davies condition led to amnesia, tiredness and light-headedness as well as heavy bleeding.

At an Employment Tribunal, the Court Service accepted that Ms Davies’ heavy menopausal symptoms meant that she was disabled.  The Tribunal went on to find that the dismissal procedure had been flawed for placing too much reliance on the health and safety investigation.  The Tribunal found that there were no reasonable grounds to find that Ms Davies had lied because they didn’t take account of her explanation about being confused and stressed and they ignored the medical report which had cited possible memory loss and confusion.

The Tribunal ordered that Ms Davies was reinstated.  The Court Service was required to pay back pay and £5,000 in compensation for injury to feelings.

Our view: As with many conditions, whether an employee is ‘disabled’ will depend upon the circumstances of the case.  Not every menopausal employee will be entitled to be protected as a disabled person.  Employers should look at whether an employee’s medical history could class them as disabled as well as the effect that an employee’s symptoms have on them.  Employers should also be aware of potential claims for direct or indirect sex discrimination and victimisation from employees who are subjected to detrimental treatment as a result of going through the menopause.

We’re happy to advise on more detail in any particular case, please just give Tiggy or Emma a call.

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