Menopause and its Effects in Afflicting The Workplace: A Need For Legal Protections

Category Business

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Employees experiencing menopausal symptoms are often reluctant to talk about them, because of fear of stigma and hurt their chances at work. However, no federal law requires employers to accommodate menopausal symptoms. This is why a federal law is needed to protect the rights of older women workers experiencing menopausal transitions.

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While she was interviewing Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler in March 2023, Drew Barrymore suddenly exclaimed:"I’m so hot … I think I’m having my first hot flash!" She took off her blazer and fanned herself dramatically. While most hot flashes aren’t televised, the entertainer’s experience was far from unique. Barrymore, age 48, is one of approximately 15 million U.S. women from 45 to 60 who work full time and may experience menopausal symptoms .

The average age of menopause is 51

Unlike Barrymore, most women are silent about their menopausal symptoms. Yet their symptoms, even when concealed from employers and co-workers, are a burden on them, their workplaces and on the overall U.S. economy. Lost work productivity due to menopausal symptoms – measured by missed work hours, job losses and early retirement – add up to about $1.8 billion annually, the Mayo Clinic estimates.The three of us write and teach about employment discrimination and feminism, and two of us have written a book about menstruation .

Menopause can last up to 14 years or more

Because of our shared interests, we are currently writing a book about menopause and the law. We’ve observed that although Gwyneth Paltrow, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama and other celebrities are speaking out about their own menopausal transitions, work accommodations are rare and employers typically don’t even acknowledge this stage of life.Stigma and silence In the lead-up to menopause, which typically begins between the ages of 45 and 55, levels of reproductive hormones change, and menstrual cycles become irregular and then eventually cease .

Menopause can affect women who are transgender and non-binary

This transition, called perimenopause, typically lasts for seven years. Common symptoms of perimenopause include hot flashes, sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, excessive bleeding and irregular periods. Technically, menopause occurs after women don’t have a period for an entire year, and postmenopause is the stage after that.Employees who experience menopausal symptoms are often reluctant to talk about them at all, let alone tell their bosses .

More women are choosing to stay in the workforce longer after menopause

They may feel stigma and shame, and they may worry that it could hurt their chances for a promotion, their co-workers will see them as less capable or that their status at work will be otherwise jeopardized. These concerns are not unfounded. In a series of studies, researchers asked workers and college students to describe their initial impressions of potential co-workers, including "a menopausal woman .

About 7 out of 10 women experience hot flashes during menopause

" The participants described her as "less confident and less emotionally stable" than the non-menopausal women.No legal protections Employees who do speak up and seek accommodations for their menopausal symptoms, which might include dress code adjustments to deal with hot flashes, are often out of luck. No federal law requires employers to accommodate menopausal symptoms. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to provide "reasonable accommodations" for workers with disabilities, U .

Hormonal therapy is a possible form of treating menopausal symptoms

S. courts have consistently held thatmenopause, by itself, is not a disability, even when its symptoms are seriously affecting someone’s ability to do their job. That’s why a federal law is needed to protect the rights of older women workers experiencing menopausal transitions.

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