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A woman losing her job because of peri-menopause

losing her job because of peri-menopause
The harrowing tale that affects more women than you think


This is a harrowing story of a woman losing her job because of peri-menopause and can make a difficult read. Thankfully, there is a more open discussion about peri-menopause, menopause, and the impact these changes have on working life.

Employers are beginning to offer better support structures and understanding of women’s challenges during this time.

It’s a conversation that KeyForHer is keen to fuel; we want as many people – men and women – to be a part of real change.

There is still a long way to go, however. Recently, one woman told her story to The Guardian, making for sobering reading.

The woman was a social worker in the UK and said she “loved” her job, always trying to go “above and beyond”.

She was fired in 2018. She admits that the peri-menopause symptoms she was experiencing meant she had begun to fall behind on her caseload. Still, she expected a little understanding with 18 years of successful employment under her belt.

“She got none.”

“It was back in 2017 that I first went to my manager to tell him I was struggling. I didn’t know what was wrong; I thought menopause was hot flushes and brain fog. No one told me about the great waves of paralysing anxiety or the total transformation of who you are,” she describes.

She adds that gradually, these symptoms became more and more overwhelming. She suffered from fatigue, crippling aches and pain, and bad heart palpitations “that lasted hours”.

“Soon, I was just living day-to-day, trying just to get through until I could collapse into bed. I lost two stone in weight: I just couldn’t eat,” she continues.

She initially took what she considered the proper steps: she went to her GP (who prescribed antidepressants that only made her symptoms worse). She also went to a heart specialist. Neither mentioned menopause, and they didn’t discuss it.

In her lower moments, she even considered whether she had dementia or, as she puts it if she was “going mad”.

At work, the woman was put on a performance improvement plan and had to attend disciplinary meetings, which only added to the stress she was feeling. “There was no sympathy. No understanding,” she says.

The woman eventually realised that her body was going through menopause by doing her own research. Unfortunately, a subsequent prescription of HRT didn’t help.

Shortly afterwards, and to her total shock, it was announced by her employers that she was fired. She spent weeks in bed as a result.

“I just felt it was so unjust how I’d been treated. I was being punished for having problems around a woman’s transition,” she says.

Learn more about menopause health here!

‘She took legal action’

It was not successful. She claims she “didn’t stand a chance,” explaining: “The tribunal judge, this man in his 60s, completely dismissed all mention of the menopause.”

The woman, now 56, is concerned that other women are enduring similar experiences in the workplace – and that collectively they have few options.

Still, the growing numbers who say they experience workplace discrimination because of menopause are becoming more vocal.

Although we don’t yet have accurate data in Ireland, according to the Irish Times, in the UK, there were five employment tribunals referencing menopause in 2018, six in 2019 and 16 in 2020. There were 10 in the first six months of 2021 alone.

“Dee Murray is the founder and CEO of Menopause Experts.”

She said that we would see group lawsuits in the future, where women will take on collective unfair dismissal or discrimination cases.

“The women in many big companies are already setting up their own private, internal menopause support groups,” she added. “If they decide their issues are not supported by HR, you could potentially have a real problem.”

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