Disability, sex discrimination and the menopause

Rooney v Leicester City Council

The Tribunal recently struck out a claim by Ms Rooney that her treatment when she was menopausal gave rise to claims for disability and sex discrimination.  Ms Rooney appealed and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the appeal.  The EAT ruled that the Tribunal had failed to provide special reasoning to support its decisions on both the sex discrimination and disability point. The Tribunal had not explained why Ms Rooney’s condition did not meet the test for disability under the Equality Act, nor looked properly at the evidence submitted regarding whether she had been less favourably treated on the grounds of sex. The EAT sent the matter back to the original Tribunal to reconsider these issues, so that the case at first instance could go either way.  


Readers of this update may have been aware that during October, there was ‘World Menopause Day’, to highlight the difficulties which can arise for menopausal women.  The matter was also discussed in Parliament.  The case is a reminder that there is no assumption that less favourable treatment of menopausal women, depending on of course the reasons for that treatment and the severity of the symptoms, might still not give rise to claims for sex discrimination and disability discrimination under the present Equality Act 2010.  

There is presently an enquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee into  menopause in the workplace and its report is awaited.  It is expected to report on whether further legislation is required to assist menopausal women, or whether the present legislation under the Equality Act is sufficient.  We will keep you informed of developments in future updates.