Woman sacked in ‘menopause mix-up’ case awarded £19,000
A woman who was dismissed amid confusion over whether two of her male colleagues had mistakenly drunk some of her cystitis medication has been awarded £19,000 compensation.
The Employment Tribunal held that in cases like hers, menopausal symptoms could be a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
The case involved Mandy Davies, who worked for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service for 20 years. She then developed medical problems related to onset of the menopause.
Part of her treatment involved taking Cystopurin, which needs to be dissolved in water, to treat cystitis. She sometimes kept a jug of water containing the medication on her desk. One day, she returned to her desk to find the jug was empty.
She then saw two male colleagues nearby drinking glasses of water. She told the tribunal that she became flustered and could not remember whether she had put any of her medication into the jug that morning.
The men told her they had got the water from a court clerk and asked why she wanted to know. When she told them that she feared it might contain the Cystopurin, one of the men started ranting at her and asked if he “would develop boobs”.
Health and safety officers investigated the incident and concluded that the water could not have contained the medication because it would have turned pink if any had been present.
The employer carried out a disciplinary investigation and referred Ms Davies to occupational health, which confirmed that she had peri-menopausal symptoms including anaemia, which caused tiredness and fainting.
The final report from the investigation alleged that Ms Davies “showed no remorse for her actions” and didn’t seem to be worried that the two men might have taken the medication by mistake. It said she had not shown the values and behaviours required by the service.
She was later dismissed for gross misconduct.
The Employment Tribunal found her to be a reliable witness and held that she had been unfairly dismissed and discriminated against on the grounds of disability caused by her menopausal symptoms. It ordered that she should be re-instated in her job and awarded £5,000 for injury to her feelings and £14,000 for the pay she had lost.
Please contact Jackie Webb if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.