£37,000 award to woman after boss dismisses her menopause ‘excuses’

After her boss told her that she was using the menopause as an excuse for everything, an office manager has been awarded a payout of £37,000.

Karne Farquharson, aged 49, told the tribunal how managing director Jim Clark told her to ‘just get on with it’ when she returned to work after being ill due to her symptoms. 

The employment tribunal heard that Ms Farquharson’s symptoms were dismissed by the managing director of Thistle Marine, Peterhead, as ‘aches and pains.’

After being off work due to stress she resigned from the firm and then successfully sued Thistle Marine for harassment and unfair dismissal.

Ms Farquharson described her boss, who is 72 years old as a dinosaur who did not understand the modern workplace and the changes that were taking place. She had started working for the company in 1995 and was earning £38,000 a year before she resigned.

To the tribunal Ms Farquharson said that she had known Thistle Marine for 27 years and they had treated her like rubbish.

Her boss, Mr Clark did not appreciate change and did not appreciate being challenged on things. He did not move with the times.

At times Ms Farquharson tried to explain to him instances where one could say things and where one could not, but this fell on deaf ears.

Founded by Mr Clark in the late 1970s, Thistle Marine provides services to the oil and fishing industries.

The tribunal was told that Mr Clark accused Ms Farquharson of strolling in when it suited her. She also had a pet hate of people not turning up. 

Ms Farquharson told the tribunal that Mr Clark was blunt by nature, often speaking his mind and referring to employees as ‘snowflakes’ when they were off sick.

Ms Farquharson first told her boss in August 2021 that she had started the menopause and was experiencing some serious symptoms. Thistle Marine paid for her to attend a private assessment of her condition.

The assessment showed that along with heavy bleeding, she was suffering from brain fog, loss of concentration and anxiety.

During December 2022 she worked from home for two reasons, firstly because of heavy snow at the time, and secondly because she was unwell due to heavy bleeding.

When she arrived the following day at 14.00 and passed her boss in the corridor, he was very sarcastic towards her by saying ‘Oh, I see you’ve made it in.’ Ms Farquharson mentioned the snow and her heavy menopausal bleeding.

Mr Clark gave her a disgusted look and walked away leaving her upset and angry that he felt this was not a good reason to stay off work.

The tribunal heard that Mr Clark made light of her symptoms by saying that everyone has aches and pains. She was shocked by this outburst and launched a grievance about the treatment she had received. 

A few days after this Ms Farquharson found that her remote access had been cut off, meaning that she could no longer work from home. At this point she resigned from Thistle Marine and began her case against them. 

Mr Clark insisted at the tribunal hearing that his remarks were completely innocent. He suggested that the claimant had planned her resignation to get money for her upcoming marriage.

Mr Clark’s lawyers disagreed with Ms Farquharson and stated that he had no intention of harassing her.

Upholding her claims, the tribunal panel chaired by judge James Hendry said that Mr Clark could best be described as a ‘blunt, self-made, successful businessman, who no doubt had many admirable quantities. Empathy for others unfortunately was not among them.’ 

The panel concluded by saying that it had become clear to them that Mr Clark had very little time or respect for anyone who, unlike himself, was not able to work as hard or without illness as he has. Clearly his remarks had violated the dignity of Ms Farquharson.


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