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Tribunal determines menopause a disability

A former Direct Line consultant has won over £64,000 in damages.

In a recent tribunal, a menopausal employee has been awarded £64,645 against Direct Line after the company failed to make reasonable adjustments for her symptoms.

Amita Chauhan, associate in the Employment Law team at Lodders, provides an overview of the case and explains what steps employers can take to better support employees going through menopause.

Amita Chauhan, Employment solicitor


Mrs Lynskey begain working for Direct Line in 2016 and maintained a good performance rating in her first few years of employment. But in 2019, she began experiencing menopausal symptoms, including low mood, anxiety, mood swings, which impacted on her concentration levels and performance. Mrs Lynskey told her manager about this and was transferred to a new role, which came with a “financial loss for the claimant”, the tribunal heard.

However, Direct Line still had concerns about Mrs Lynskey’s performance, categorising her struggle as a “confidence issue” in the months that followed. At her end of year review in January 2021, her performance was rated as “requires improvement” and she was consequently not offered a pay rise. By April 2021, Direct Line had started disciplinary action against Mrs Lynskey and she was put on a performance improvement plan.

Having been refused further sick pay, despite believing she has only used half her entitlement, and denied a round of refresher training that had been recommended to her in an occupational health report, Mrs Lynskey resigned her position in May 2022.

She alleged that she had been constructively dismissed and had been subjected to sex, age and disability discrimination and harassment.

Disability discrimination

Although Mrs Lynskey wasn’t successful with her unfair dismissal, sex discrimination and age discrimination complaints, she was successful with her claim of disability discrimination.

The Tribunal found that:

  • Mrs Lynskey was subjected to unfavourable treatment as a result of her disability, because she was doing all she could to achieve her objectives while limited by her menopausal symptoms.
  • Direct Line had failed to make reasonable adjustments such as reducing Mrs Lynskey’s targets or finding her a new role that didn’t involve dealing with difficult customers.
  • Direct Line could have abandoned the disciplinary process and could have accepted her mitigation (disability) during her employment.

Mrs Lynskey was therefore granted £23,000 for injury to feelings and more than £30,000 for loss of wages. She was also awarded £2,500 for aggravated damages because, despite knowing about her condition, Direct Line had not accepted that she was disabled until shortly before the hearing. Full details of the case can be found here.

Do you have a menopause policy in place?

Menopause is a highly sensitive and personal issue. Because of this, some employees will understandably not feel comfortable discussing symptoms openly with their managers. It is therefore paramount that legal advice is taken at the appropriate stage, to allow employers to communicate with their employees effectively.

We’d recommend the following steps:

  • Put in place a menopause policy. A menopause policy should set out your organisation’s approach towards employees who are handling menopausal symptoms, and the support that you will make available to them.
  • Train staff. Staff, including managers and HR professionals, need training on their obligations if an employee is menopausal and the effects that menopause symptoms can have.
  • Make reasonable adjustments. It’s important to take legal advice on what adjustments need to be made if an employee is menopausal and what options are available.

For advice on taking appropriate steps to support employees with menopause, please send our employment team an enquiry here or give us a call on 01789 293259.

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Need more advice?

For help with a legal problem or more information on any of our services at Lodders, please get in touch with our friendly team. You can contact us via the number or email address below, or fill in the form and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

Emily Brampton, Lodders Solicitors

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