Menopausal comments amounted to age discrimination

A female finance executive won an age discrimination claim after her younger male boss told her ‘Calm down… don’t let the hormones get out of control.’


The manager regarded the 55 year old as ‘a menopausal woman’ and made the remark during a ‘heated exchange’ at a company meeting, an employment tribunal heard. It was also found that the manager, who was 29, viewed older people as ‘not familiar’ with the IT business.

The employee is now in line for compensation after successfully suing for age discrimination and unfair dismissal.


The issue began when the employee infuriated the company’s Chief Technology Officer who was a director of the company, when she emailed a customer: ‘I know that talking to techies can get frustrating at times, especially when there is a feeling that they aren’t listening. Their brains are wired differently to us more practically minded people (not that I am as practical as you and they drive me mad at times, so I can only guess at how you feel!!)’.


The email was deemed to be inappropriate and the employee was forced to formally apologise to the client. However, later, the employee warned the director that his sales projections were unrealistic amid a budget that showed the firm losing £500,000 that year. The director responded, stating that her team was ‘dysfunctional’ and a ‘shambles’ before calling on her to ‘step up to the mark’. He also apparently stated: ‘Calm down.. don’t let the hormones get out of control’.


Following a number of other minor disagreements, the employee was placed on gardening leave. During her gardening leave, she was contacted by a recruitment consultant who told her, ‘in embarrassment’ that he had been instructed by the Chief Technology Officer to find ‘a younger team member who was more in tune with a young tech start company’.


After raising a complaint, the employee was dismissed, and the tribunal found that she had been the victim of age discrimination. Tribunal decided that it could conclude that at least part of the reason for the dismissal was her age.


The company had asked the recruitment consultant to look for a younger person, the Chief Technology Officer viewed the employee as an older woman and considered that older people were not familiar with IT businesses.


A hearing to determine the level of compensation the employee will receive will take place at a later date.  Yet another example of discrimination which could have been avoided. Contact 121 HR Solutions if you have any concerns regarding the discrimination.


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