Can disability discrimination be based on menopause?

2018-06-25 Jennifer Renney posted:

In short – yes!

It was only a matter of time before menopausal symptoms were brought into the category of disability, and that’s exactly what happened in the recent case of Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service where the Claimant successfully claimed unfair dismissal and that the dismissal was discrimination arising from disability. The case did have some unusual circumstances as the Claimant in question was suffering from very severe symptoms associated with menopause including amnesia, tiredness, light headedness and even fainting. She was dismissed after an incident at work when she was accused of being rude and unco-operative to a member of the public. The Tribunal found that her behaviour was mainly due to her symptoms and ordered her employer to reinstate her and to compensate her in respect of injured feelings.

Employers are advised to understand the effects of menopausal symptoms on an employee and if necessary obtain medical evidence as to the effects, allowing them to make informed decisions about any adjustments that may need to be made, rather than forming an opinion based on any pre-conceived views.

On a practical note, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has produced a menopause toolkit to further emphasise the importance of the changing attitudes of how menopause is viewed and the implications of failing to adhere to the needs of any employees suffering from this. The TUC is even suggesting a specific menopause policy should be drawn up by employers, but many businesses will regard this as somewhat extreme.

In future cases of employees suffering from severe symptoms of this condition, employers will need to consider whether adjustments need to be made, and may face a claim if they fail to comply with their legal obligations. For further advice, contact Renney and Co on 01225632240 or email us at info@renneyandco.com with any questions.

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