Rooney v Leicester City Council EA-2020-000070-DA and EA-2021-000256-DA
Since our recent article on the menopause (found here), a new Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision has explored the conduct of Tribunals when assessing menopause as a disability.
Under the EqA a person has a disability if:
With the symptoms of menopause including hot flushes, sweats, difficulty sleeping, headaches, anxiety, joint stiffness and palpitations, it is likely that, in certain cases, this will meet the test for disability in law.
The Claimant, Ms Rooney, worked for Leicester City Council as a social worker until her resignation. Following her resignation, Ms Rooney brought a claim for constructive dismissal, but the claim form included an acceptance from her solicitors that her menopause symptoms did not amount to a disability under the EqA.
Ms Rooney then presented a second claim for disability and sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation in relation to her menopause symptoms, which she claimed had been ongoing for two years and included insomnia, fatigues, confusion, light-headedness, confusion, stress, depression, anxiety, palpitations, memory loss, migraines and hot flushes. Ms Rooney highlighted the negative impact this had on her life, that her GP had prescribed hormone replacement therapy and that she had been referred to a consultant at a specialist menopause clinic.
At a preliminary hearing Ms Rooney applied to remove the statement in her claim form that conceded that she was not disabled. The Tribunal subsequently held at a second preliminary hearing that Ms Rooney did not have a disability and her claims were struck out.
Ms Rooney appealed to the EAT.
The EAT held that the Tribunal erred in law in deciding Ms Rooney was not disabled, and striking out her discrimination claims, without sufficient analysis and or providing sufficient reasons for the decision.
The EAT based this decision on the Tribunal erring in:
The EAT also upheld the appeal against the strike-out of the sex discrimination, harassment and victimisation claims.
The case is yet to be redecided by the Tribunal.
This decision highlights the impact that the menopause can have on workers and indicates that there is limited legal precedent for cases in this arena.
Websites such as Unison and ACAS provide useful tips for employers, such as:
Employers should aim to keep up to date with any developments in the current Parliamentary Inquiry and may consider seeking legal advice on policies and best practice when dealing with menopause in the workplace.
This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please contact Rachael Lloyd or Tegan Osborne-Brown to discuss any issues you are facing.