To be furious for being called out for menstruating at work?

(560 Posts)
Snuffalo Tue 11-Jul-17 15:04:58

Having horrible menstrual cramps, naproxen isn’t touching it, and I remember I have a hot water bottle in my desk drawer - I used it all winter in my freezing office, and a few other people, male and female, have one as well - we have a rule against personal space heaters so it can be nice to have under your desk next to your feet.

Anyway. I fill the hot water bottle, nestle it in my lap, and I’m back to work. My sort-of-supervisor* we’ll call Guy comes over to talk to me about something, notices the hot water bottle, says “there’s no way you’re cold today, are you?” I say “um, no, just for the pain relief”. He looks confused and then literally horrified and then he walks away.

Less than ten minutes later, I get a Slack message from one of the HR admins (HR is based in another office a few hours away) to say “Guy says you’re not well and should go home, everything OK?”

I say “I’m fine, this is sort of weird, he just looked a bit shocked that I had a hot water bottle, I’ve got cramps, you know how it is.”

She goes silent and then offline completely, ten more minutes later, the HR Director calls me and asks me if I can find a meeting room, which I do. She then tells me that I shouldn’t disclose my medical problems to anyone who isn’t part of HR as it can make them uncomfortable. I’m literally shocked, I explain exactly what happened, she says “yes I understand, if you’re so unwell you need a hot water bottle you should be home, Guy is extremely uncomfortable and it’s unprofessional”. I say “this is weird, ok, anything else”? She’s quite breezy and professional - “No, that’s all, if you’re feeling better that’s great but if you need to, please do go home, OK bye!"

I’m just completely flabbergasted. Especially considering that Guy has been known to take meetings with clients whilst laying flat on the floor on his back because of back problems - which seems to me both unprofessional and likely to make people uncomfortable, not that I really cared personally. I wouldn’t have had my hot water bottle in a client meeting or even if clients were in the office.

Other people have standing desks, weird foot rests, all kinds of chairs and special backrests for their back pain and wrist braces for their wrist pain and a hundred other things and I’m not allowed to have a hot water bottle for my menstrual cramps? Am I right to be completely fucking furious?

*I normally have no problem with Guy, we don’t work closely, no one else does what I do at work but he comes closest and he does my nominal (and always positive) performance reviews and signs off on my holiday.

OP’s posts: |
KoalaDownUnder Tue 11-Jul-17 15:08:30

Guy needs to grow the fuck up.

What did I actually just read?! shock

RhubardGin Tue 11-Jul-17 15:09:19

Wow! What an over reaction from your work shock

Guy sounds like a twat!

teaandtoast Tue 11-Jul-17 15:10:37

Why did he bloody ask, if he didn't want an answer?

CheeseOfHearts Tue 11-Jul-17 15:11:35

So in other words, 'please don't mention anything that might be remotely related to your icky lady parts, men can't cope with it'? Since it's ok to talk about back pain and anything else. YANBU. That's an idiotic attitude and Guy needs to grow up. Surprised HR took this up with you. It's beyond weird and sexist and you're right to be furious.

hibbledobble Tue 11-Jul-17 15:11:37

Wow, that sounds like a huge reaction on everyone's part!

halcyondays Tue 11-Jul-17 15:12:16

The HR director sounds a bit of an idiot as well.


Shadow666 Tue 11-Jul-17 15:12:38

He's ridiculous. HR is ridiculous. Most women menstruate. It's a perfectly normal body function. My coworker complains every month to me about cramps. They both need to grow up.

SpaghettiAndMeatballs Tue 11-Jul-17 15:12:52

ROFL - woman has period shocker!

Seriously - Gary clearly has no women in his life if he doesn't realise that sometimes there's nothing to be done but the hot water bottle, and going home isn't going to help anything so you may as well be at work. Not like it's infectious.

Gary needs to grow up.

TipTop333 Tue 11-Jul-17 15:13:36

I'm not excusing Guy's reaction here in the slightest, but I think it was HR who behaved appallingly in this situation.

MikeUniformMike Tue 11-Jul-17 15:15:00

Periods aren't a medical problem. Jesus, what next, will you get sent home because you need a pee.

Groupie123 Tue 11-Jul-17 15:15:34

Do you have a complaint process for HR? If not go straight to your CEO and explain you experienced sex discrimination from your head of HR as you were called out on having menstrual cramps when other colleagues have had their illnesses brushed over. Document it all.

halcyondays Tue 11-Jul-17 15:15:44

I wouldn't care if someone had a hot water bottle in a meeting, but have you tried those heat patches? They are great for period pains, you can get them in Poundland.

Guitargirl Tue 11-Jul-17 15:15:54

Guy is a weird fucker and your HR department are an absolutely useless shower who clearly don't have enough work to do.

KoalaDownUnder Tue 11-Jul-17 15:16:01

And yes, HR were massive dicks as well.

Why on earth didn't they tell Guy it's no big deal? Instead of pandering to the sensitive ickle wickle man being offended by the vaguest allusion to <shocked whisper> MONTHLIES.

Whatsername17 Tue 11-Jul-17 15:16:21

I'd put in a complaint. You didn't disclose a medical condition, you simply said you were using the hot water bottle for pain relief. Guy needs to stop clutching his pearls.

coffeecoffee14 Tue 11-Jul-17 15:18:10

OMG!!! That is bloody ridiculous (no pun intended). That guy overreacted like an immature 12 year old! HR were ridiculous too.
I feel your pain today 😭

ChrisPrattsFace Tue 11-Jul-17 15:19:13

OP, YABU, obviously you need to stop menustraying because you're making him whey uncomfortable. He has every right to delve into your personal business.... hmmgrin
I'd have a follow up / strong worded email sent to HR if that was me!

LucieLucie Tue 11-Jul-17 15:19:46

Why on earth have HR even entertained what this 'Guy' has said?!

I'd have thought it should have come via your line manager, certainly not HR.

I'd have questioned them on it as in "you seriously want me to take sick leave for menstrual cramps?!"


TipTop333 Tue 11-Jul-17 15:19:56

Guy to HR: "THERE'S A WOMAN! ON MY TEAM! WHO IS.... <whispers> on her period. DO SOMETHING, WILL YOU???"

DefinitelyOdd Tue 11-Jul-17 15:20:14

Ancient Greeks used to believe that women's periods could control the weather and summon storms. Maybe Guy is afraid of thunder?

In all seriousness, Guy and HR need to sod off. Periods are not a medical conditon (as my old pe teacher used to tell me when I tried to skive cross country). Have you got a complaints procedure to follow?

Jellycatspyjamas Tue 11-Jul-17 15:20:35

I always thought menstruation was a normal physical process, not a medical condition or medical problem.

Bunlicker Tue 11-Jul-17 15:21:06

he felt uncomfortable!

I'm sorry what? It's a Normal biological function. If you say you're going to the toilet does he get the vapours too?

I'd write a long angry email. I'm sure the posters on FWR can help you draft one!

Bunlicker Tue 11-Jul-17 15:22:06

Ancient Greeks used to believe that women's periods could control the weather and summon storms. Maybe Guy is afraid of thunder?

By the power of Menstuaties I command thee thunder!

badtime Tue 11-Jul-17 15:22:14

I've got to admit, I would email HR and ask for them to reiterate this non-disclosure policy in writing, and to clarify what could and could not be disclosed (e.g. bad back, cough).

Basically, there is no way for them to do that without saying what they meant, which was clearly 'eeeeew, periods'.

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