Sales assistant wins payout after boss claimed 'she must be in menopause'

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Leigh Best, 52, was offended when her then-boss David Fletcher made the comments following a dispute over an order, an employment tribunal heard. Mr Fletcher was said to have “bellowed at the top of his voice”.

The tribunal panel said Mr Fletcher had broached a “highly sensitive topic” and acted “tactlessly” when raising the menopause.

A month after the affair, which took place in March 2020, Mrs Best was sacked from the pet food business in Billericay, Essex, for due to her “confrontational” communication with co-workers and managers.

When Mrs Best confronted Mr Fletcher’s wife, fellow owner Andrea, about his remarks she was told to “stop moaning” due to the way business could be impacted.

She was told: “It shouldn’t happen like this.

“You’ve got to stop moaning and you’ve got to talk to people with respect, you’ve got to stop trying to blame people, you’re very quick to tell people when they’re doing something wrong.

“You’ve got to get on with everybody or we’ll have to call it a day.”

The tribunal, led by Employment Judge Bernice Elgot, found that Mrs Best’s allegations concerning Mr Fletcher formed part of the basis for her sacking.

It said: “We are satisfied that part of the reason for the company’s decision to dismiss Mrs Best is that she made a significant allegation of sexism and ageism against Mr David Fletcher.”

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Mrs Best won the age and sex harassment case after the tribunal was told of the “inappropriate and derogatory comments about her age” and the “remarks, relevant to her sex as a woman, relating to his perception or ‘guess’ that she might be menopausal” made against her.

She is due to be awarded damages during a hearing later this month.

The tribunal said: “Mr Fletcher invaded the Claimant’s privacy, broached a highly sensitive topic for her and acted tactlessly in directly asking her, as an employee having the protected characteristic of sex as a woman, whether she was menopausal.”

It added: “He asked that question even after… she had made it quite clear that she did not wish to participate in any such discussion.”

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Concerns were also raised over the way the pet food business dealt with Covid.

Mrs Best said safety measures were not “enforced” by Mr and Mrs Fletcher.

She is reported to have expressed her worries to Mrs Fletcher, who accused her on April 20 of creating a “divide in the business”.

These remarks were exchanged in the same conversation in which Mrs Best complained of Mr Fletcher’s menopause comments.

Mrs Best is now the owner of her own pet food business.



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