Don't blame the change

Plus: Passed-up promotions and gem centers this week in The Memo.
Don't blame the change

Hello, Quartz at Work readers!

In 1946, Louisa J. Richey was riding as the passenger in a car when it was struck by a dry cleaning truck. She was then taken to the hospital, where she reported pain in her chest and difficulty breathing. Richey was ultimately sent home—but her pain persisted. She coughed up blood; her face swelled; she was hospitalized multiple times over, sometimes for weeks.

Richey and her husband later sued the dry cleaning company for her injuries. But at the trial, attorneys called Richey’s own doctor to testify against her, and he attributed her injuries to an unlikely source: not to company fault, but to menopause.

The strategy has come to be known as the “menopause defense”—and it’s been brought into the workplace, too. Menopause has been used as a courtroom tactic to deny women workers’ compensation, push them out of careers, and justify other discrimination on the job. “As long as a woman was 3 or over, efforts were made to blame whatever complaint she had on menopause,” write law professors Phyllis T. Bookspan and Maxine Kline.

Take, for example, female flight attendants, who as recently as the 1960s were forced to quit their jobs once they reached age 32. The justification for age limits, according to one airline? “Women between the ages of 38 and 50 undergo changes of body, personality, and emotion,” which apparently “interfere with their performance.”

Today, some companies are reversing course. Two-thirds of US women aged 40–65 say they want their employers to offer menopause-related policies or supports. As they try to entice hires, employers are paying attention, with some (although not many) adding benefits like hormone therapies and in-office cooling stations.

And while employers are just starting to support menopause needs, reporter Emily McCrary-Ruiz-Esparza finds that US labor laws are still lagging behind—leaving workers vulnerable to discrimination like it’s last century.

But advocates are aiming to protect menopause at work. Find out how in Quartz’s feature.


“We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it.”

That’s Sean M. O’Brien, International Brotherhood of Teamsters president, in a tweet celebrating how UPS workers reached a “historic” contract agreement with the delivery giant yesterday.

The agreement comes just days before the existing contract was set to expire. Had 330,000 UPS employees represented by the union walked out, it would have been one of the largest labor actions in American history.

So what’s in the deal? Quartz reporter Diego Lasarte digs into the terms and conditions.


United Airlines is facing an unlikely issue getting planes off the ground: Nobody wants to be the captain.

There are plenty of reasons you might pass up a promotion, Quartz’s Gabriela Riccardi writes. But at United, at least, pilots are finding the increased demands of the job aren’t worth the upgrade—and the consequences could keep flights from taking off.

✈️ It’s a lesson in leadership. If your promotion paths don’t acknowledge what workers actually want, don’t be surprised if nobody will go for them. Read more about why United’s pilots, like a lot of workers these days, would prefer not to get ahead.


7.1 million: The square footage of the Surat Diamond Bourse (SDB), the sprawling Indian trade center that just became the world’s largest office building.

Located in India’s gem capital, the building comes at a blingy price tag of 32 billion rupees, or $390 million, reporter Ananya Bhattacharya adds. The SDB opens as others predict that remote work could wipe out up to $800 billion of office value by 2030. But the center offers other eye-popping numbers:

  • 65,000: Diamond professionals, including cutters, polishers and traders, that can work onsite
  • 4,700: Office spaces, which double as diamond workshops
  • 400: Diamond traders who actually wanted to move in late last year, a paltry showing that postponed the center’s opening

💎 So which government building did the SDB surpass to take top rank as the world’s largest office? The answer may surprise you.


Three key questions can help you keep your team priorities straight. While it can be tempting to match complex problems with a complex strategy, contributor Claudio Garcia writes that simpler is better. That’s why he suggests having regular check-ins on your strategy and priorities to keep them parallel.

💡 Those check-ins can be guided by recurring questions. The first, he adds, hinges on commitment: “Are we still passionate about doing this?” Find the other questions in the piece.


🍺 Unionized workers are stepping in to save America’s oldest craft brewery 

🎭 Broadway actors narrowly avoided a strike after workers reached a deal with producers 

✈️ United Airlines pilots don’t want to be promoted 

🤝 How to host hybrid meetings employees want to attend 

📦 UPS avoided a major strike as Teamsters tout “historic” deal 


Send questions, comments, and passed-up promotions to This edition of The Memo was produced by Gabriela Riccardi.