Leicester council to face legal action over menopause discrimination

October marks Menopause Awareness Month and the recent allegations against Leicester city council shows much more work needs to be done.

Yesterday, news broke that legal action has been brought onto Leicester city council after a former children’s social worker revealed she had been dismissed after experiencing discrimination over suffering menopause symptoms.

Maria Rooney, 52, claimed she was harassed and victimised by the local authority on disability grounds. This is the first tribunal case the council will be facing, and they have been reported to be contesting Ms Rooney’s claims.

In a witness statement, which was revealed yesterday, Ms Rooney said: ‘I had no other alternative but to resign from my social worker job after 12 years due to persistent and consistent management bullying, harassment, victimisation, and discrimination, which has had a long-term and profound impact on me.

‘I also believe that I was being victimised and harassed for raising valid, serious, and important concerns in the workplace and that I was being treated unfairly.

‘I raised serious concerns about management bullying, harassment, and intimidation (not just towards myself but to other workers) on several occasions to different managers as I felt it was a health and safety concern, however, my complaints were all ignored.

‘I was unfairly constructively dismissed, and the respondent committed a repudiatory breach of contract.’

Ms Rooney also added that she began to suffer from perimenopausal symptoms at the end of 2016 and started to suffer from work-related stress from the end of 2017.

Against this backdrop, when the former social worker was repeatedly signed off work with stress, Ms Rooney claimed the council ‘failed to consider’ the reasons for her absence when she returned to work.

Although Ms Rooney’s experience is tragic, it isn’t surprising. Research that was conducted by the Fawcett Society in 2022 showed one in ten women who during the menopause – which starts at the age of 51 for the majority – have left a job due to their symptoms. As well as this, eight out of 10 women say their employer hasn’t shared information, trained staff, or put in place a menopause absence policy.

Experts have highlighted that if workplaces were better equipped to support women going through the menopause or experiencing premenopausal symptoms, more individuals would feel comfortable staying in their positions.

Image: Shutterstock / Vitalii Vodolazskyi

More on this topic:

Plans for UK’s first menopause education programme launched by UCL academics

‘Menopause leave’ trial rejected by government ministers


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