Woman Wins Compensation in Menopause Discrimination Case

Female Office Manager Awarded £37,000 After Facing Menopause Discrimination at Work”

Karen Farquharson, a dedicated office manager, found herself in a distressing situation when her boss labeled employees who called in sick as ‘snowflakes’ and accused her of using the menopause as an ‘excuse for everything.’ Her ordeal eventually led to a legal battle in which she emerged victorious, receiving £37,379.56 in compensation.

Background and Workplace

Karen Farquharson had been a part of the engineering company Thistle Marine, based in Peterhead, Scotland, since 1995, working her way up to the role of office manager. The company, founded in the late 70s by Jim Clark, had a substantial annual turnover, providing services to the oil and fishing industries.

Hostile Work Environment

Over the years, Mrs. Farquharson noticed that Jim Clark had a strong aversion to employees taking holidays or being absent due to illness. Known for his blunt nature, Mr. Clark often referred to absent employees as “snowflakes.”

In August 2021, Mrs. Farquharson disclosed her menopause condition to her employers, citing severe symptoms. The company arranged for a private assessment of her condition, indicating their acknowledgment of the issue. However, as time passed, her symptoms worsened, including anxiety, a loss of concentration, and brain fog.

Discriminatory Incident

In December 2022, Mrs. Farquharson worked from home for two days due to heavy snow and menopausal bleeding. When she returned to the office at 2 pm the following day, she was met with sarcasm from Jim Clark, who commented, “Oh, I see you’ve made it in!” She explained her absence due to snow and menopausal bleeding, to which Mr. Clark responded dismissively, stating that the menopause was just an excuse for everything.

Emotional Impact and Resignation

Mrs. Farquharson confronted Mr. Clark, expressing her displeasure at his comments and emphasizing that he lacked an understanding of her situation. In response, Mr. Clark continued to belittle her condition, describing it as mere “aches and pains.” Overwhelmed and upset, Mrs. Farquharson left the workplace.

Following the incident, Mrs. Farquharson lodged a grievance against the company, expressing her dissatisfaction with how she had been treated. Several days later, her remote access to the company’s accounts system was terminated, making it impossible for her to work from home. Frustrated and disillusioned, she eventually resigned from her position.

Legal Battle and Victory

During the tribunal hearing, Mr. Clark dismissed his remarks as “innocent” and suggested that Mrs. Farquharson had orchestrated her resignation for financial gain before her marriage. However, the panel, chaired by Employment Judge James Hendry, upheld Mrs. Farquharson’s claims of unfair dismissal and harassment.

The panel recognized Jim Clark’s blunt nature but concluded that his comments had violated Mrs. Farquharson’s dignity. They determined that his remarks were not innocent but rather a clear expression of his disdain for employees taking time off work. They noted that Mrs. Farquharson had faced difficulties due to menopausal symptoms, and the company had even arranged a medical assessment for her.

Impact on Karen Farquharson

Mrs. Farquharson described her former boss as a ‘dinosaur’ who resisted change and challenges. She expressed her ongoing struggle with anxiety, disbelief, and diminished self-belief as a result of the experience. Although she has found employment elsewhere, the traumatic incident continues to affect her professional life.

The case of Karen Farquharson sheds light on the importance of addressing menopause discrimination in the workplace and the need for empathy and understanding toward employees facing such challenges.

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