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Equality Act: Menopause Disabilty Discrimination

View profile for Rianna Billington
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Equality Act: Menopause Disabilty Discrimination

The case of Rooney v Leicester City Council. 

Ms Rooney’s Claims

Ms Rooney started working for the council in 2006 as a social worker. She resigned in 2018, in part, because she felt that her managers had failed to support her during the menopause and had subjected her to unfavourable treatment.

She brought a number of employment claims, including disability discrimination.

She submitted an impact assessment as part of her evidence which said that her symptoms had a significant effect on the quality of her life and on her presentation and personality. She forgot to attend events, meetings and appointments, lost personal possessions, forgot to put the handbrake on the car and to lock it, left the cooker and iron on and left the house without locking doors and windows. She also spent prolonged periods in bed due to fatigue/exhaustion.

Tribunal Result

Despite this, the tribunal said that her menopausal systems were not a disability because they were not long standing and didn't have a substantial adverse effect on her ability to carry out normal day to day activities. They struck out her claims and Ms Rooney appealed.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal held that the employment tribunal erred in law in finding that Ms Rooney was not a disabled person. In particular, the employment tribunal:

  • weighed on what Ms Rooney could do against what she could not do
  • failed to correctly consider the meaning of long term
  • concluded Ms Rooney’s menopausal symptoms did not have more than a minor, trivial effect on her day-to-day activities despite much evidence to the contrary.

What we can learn from this case

This case is an example of the difficulties faced by menopausal women in the workplace and the challenges that can arise in establishing that their symptoms amount to a disability. It is also a reminder to employers that menopause could be a disability which requires adjustments and consideration (although employers should be considering this anyway).

This appeal decision comes whilst we await the results of an inquiry led by the Women and Equalities Committee. The inquiry considered whether equality laws should be strengthened to better protect women going through menopause from being subject to discrimination, by making menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. We still await details of the findings and whether any legal reform will take place.

If you have an employee who is going through the menopause or you are an employee who has the menopause and this is affecting you in the workplace and you need advice please contact me via or call 01245 453812