A woman who was unfairly dismissed from her job after her male boss exclaimed “she must be on her menopause” has received more than £20,000 in compensation.
Mrs Best, who worked as a sales assistant at pet food retailer Embark on Raw in Essex, was dismissed after she raised concerns around Covid-19 safety.
Best was employed by the company, which sells raw food for cats and dogs, between January 2020 and May 2020.
As the severity of the pandemic became clear in March 2020, Best began to research health and safety procedures such as limiting the number of customers in the shop, but felt her suggestions were being ignored.
She was given a verbal warning after her employer claimed she had created a “divide” in the business and was overreacting to the nature of the pandemic. A period of sickness absence followed – first with Covid symptoms and then stress-related absence. She was dismissed on 11 May.
In March 2020, an argument occurred between Best and her manager Mr Fletcher over a mix-up in orders.
An employment tribunal in October 2021 heard that Mr Fletcher had shouted “she must be on her menopause”, something Best found “distressing and wished to avoid talking about” as it was a private matter.
Last month, the tribunal ruled that she had been unfairly dismissed, harassed due to her age and sex, and victimised. The tribunal deemed Mr Fletcher’s comments to be “unwanted, obtrusive and inappropriate questioning about whether or not she was menopausal.”
The East London Hearing Centre has now awarded Best £20,058, including £680 for loss of wages, £4,000 for harassment and victimisation, and £10,000 in relation to unlawful detriment. She has since started her own successful pet food business.
The £10,000 award for unlawful detriment was given to Best because the company failed to investigate her claims about Covid safety properly. The tribunal found that the company was unable to form a balanced view of her complaints and Best was left “misinformed, humiliated and mortified” by the way she had been treated.