Employment Alert – Asking an employee if they are menopausal was harassment

28 Jan 2022

Asking an employee if they are menopausal was harassment

What’s happening?

In the recent case of Best v Embark on Raw Ltd, an employee succeeded in her claim for age and sex based harassment which was linked to the menopause. Her claim was in relation to comments made by her manager, including him asking her if she was menopausal.

Why is this important?

The menopause affects all women. It can also affect some transgender, non-binary and intersex employees also.

Menopausal symptoms can have a serious detrimental impact on a person’s ability to carry out their day-to-day activities. In turn, this can impact their performance, confidence and absence levels at work. In some cases, this leads to employees taking long periods of sick leave or even leaving their job if they do not feel supported enough.

Not only do employers have a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of menopausal employees at work, they may also have obligations under the Equality Act 2010. Although the menopause itself is not a protected characteristic, Best v Embark on Raw Ltd is the latest in a growing number of cases where employees have successfully argued that they have suffered discrimination or harassment in relation to the menopause, based on the protected characteristics of age, sex and disability.

What should you do?

Employers should put in place a menopause policy. However, simply having a policy itself will not be enough to absolve employers of their obligations and any liability. It is vital that employers are implementing effective practices day-to-day.

Employers should be familiarising themselves with what the menopause is, how it can affect employees, their legal obligations and how they should be approaching and supporting menopausal employees in the workplace.

To assist with this, we will shortly be releasing a Menopause Awareness and Management Training course aimed at managers. Please email: kathryn.evans@trethowans.com if you are interested in the training and/or the policy. Failing that watch this space!

 

If you need more information please contact us on 0800 2800 421 or email Employment.Alert@trethowans.com to find out how we can help.

Author

Kathryn Evans

Partner