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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: |
monkeysaymonkeydo Thu 13-Jul-17 09:26:25

I work in HR and I am embarrassed at this reaction by my fellow professionals! Not the way to deal with what isn't even a problem.

user1498647726 Thu 13-Jul-17 09:39:13

Hr should have told him to grow up, and perhaps be curious about reality for a large proportion of half the race!!! You did well not to explode and to keep your cool.

Pritchyx Thu 13-Jul-17 09:44:55

I'd of said "okay, I'll take the remainder of the day off with pay.. thanks. Goodbye"
The way they've dealt with you is disgusting! Can you make a formal complaint to your MD?

I've been asked infront of all my colleagues rather loudly whether I was on my period by a male manager... because I had a couple of spots on my chin (I was due to come on).. I literally went bright red and just walked out the office.. I don't want my colleagues to know when I'm on blush

You handled the situation well but I'd love to give that Guy and the HR people you came into contact with a right kick up the arse! How rude of them!!

MyNameIsAlexDrake Thu 13-Jul-17 09:47:40

Totally ridiculous on Guy's part and completely wrong of HR.

I work with a man who often sits on a rubber ring (a normal kids swimming one) presumably due to piles.

Losingthewill8 Thu 13-Jul-17 12:46:10

Guitargirl sums it up!!

HR need to be pulled up on this, however with you being a grown up, I can understand that you probably wouldn't be bothered!

I'm more astonished with HRs reaction. They should have told 'guy' to go away and get on with his work!

IloveBanff Thu 13-Jul-17 12:59:53

Judging by the lack of posts, I'd be surprised if the OP is still reading this thread. I do hope she takes it further though.

ToffeeCake1 Thu 13-Jul-17 13:20:41

I don't know if it's just me but I kind of got the view that Guy was just trying to be helpful and have you go home if you're ill and then HR just made a big, disgusting sea about it? I feel if he had an issue and felt uncomfortable then he would have told HR it was cramps and not just that you weren't well? And HR just assumed he had an issue?

corythatwas Thu 13-Jul-17 13:25:19

grannytomine Thu 13-Jul-17 09:19:57
"user1481824520 you know it was menstrual cramps, the OP knows, I know and most of MN knows. Did Guy know? Did HR know? All she told them was it was cramps."

In that case, how did Guy explain his embarrassment, which was, after all, the substance of his complaint? What is supposed to be embarrassing about "I have a pain in my stomach" if it is not relating to menstruation?
(seeing that OP did not go into details re bowel function or anything else with potential to embarrass)

"oh really, FemaleEmployee, you must not tell your colleague that you have sprained your wrist: the poor man didn't know where to look!"

user1481824520 Thu 13-Jul-17 13:29:36

Thank you, corythatwas, you took the words right out of my mouth!

Jessikita Thu 13-Jul-17 13:29:39

Your story has an article in the independent!!!

Greyponcho Thu 13-Jul-17 13:32:24

I am 50 shades of furious reading this!! angryangry

nosey fucker should have kept his nose out if he can't cope with the answer - I mean really?!. What did he expect your reply to be that you were training for a desert trek & were getting yourself accustomed to uncomfortably hot temperatures..? hmm

illegitimateMortificadospawn Thu 13-Jul-17 13:34:50

Independent link: www.indy100.com/article/woman-hot-water-bottle-period-complain-twitter-anygirlfriday-mumsnet-snuffalo-7838691?utm_source=indy&utm_medium=top5&utm_campaign=i100

EmpressOfTheSpartacusOceans Thu 13-Jul-17 15:13:00

Just read the link. I wonder if Emilie thought to check with the OP before sharing on Twitter & speaking to the Independent?

coddiwomple Thu 13-Jul-17 15:19:33

why should she check? This is a public forum, and all posters are anonymous. Mumsnet doesn't have to ask to post some threads on their facebook page for all users to share around.

IloveBanff Thu 13-Jul-17 15:21:54

I hope Guy reads that Independent article.

Mulledwine1 Thu 13-Jul-17 15:34:26

Also made it to Stylist: www.stylist.co.uk/life/careers/menstruation-period-cramps-office-careers-miosgyny-sexism-discrimination?utm_content=bufferaecb0&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

katelynjournalist Thu 13-Jul-17 15:39:13

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

IloveBanff Thu 13-Jul-17 15:40:16

The Stylist article is saying it happened to the woman who Tweeted about it, Emilie, with no mention that she read it on Mumsnet.

Italiangreyhound Thu 13-Jul-17 15:47:47

coddiwomple "why should she check? This is a public forum, and all posters are anonymous. Mumsnet doesn't have to ask to post some threads on their facebook page for all users to share around."

Because it is common decency and it is shitty fake 'journalism'.

coddiwomple Thu 13-Jul-17 17:37:29

I wasn't talking about the newspaper, just stating there's no difference between tweeting the story and sharing a link from the MN FB page.

Italiangreyhound Thu 13-Jul-17 17:40:27

Oh sorry I thought you meant the journalist!

wellymelly Thu 13-Jul-17 18:08:14

You have GOT To B F**KING JOKING!!!!!!!! I would have to put in a complaint about this to HR about their attitude and behaviour towards you, which is harassment THEY ABU!!! Guy, is also BU but it may be that he feels uncomfortable with you being at work in pain. Perhaps clarify that before jumping to conclusions. If it's as you thought, make a complaint about him too.

wellymelly Thu 13-Jul-17 18:10:28

Ooooooo... you simply MUST MUST MUST bring in some packets of tampons and EXTRA ABSORBANT With WINGS pads. Leave them on your desk along with your sandwich over lunchtime grin

coddiwomple Thu 13-Jul-17 18:10:48

I have long given up on hoping journalists do their job properly, and do some kind of research before writing an article, unfortunately we are past that, and it's not just the DM...

grannytomine Thu 13-Jul-17 18:39:57

*In that case, how did Guy explain his embarrassment, which was, after all, the substance of his complaint? What is supposed to be embarrassing about "I have a pain in my stomach" if it is not relating to menstruation?
(seeing that OP did not go into details re bowel function or anything else with potential to embarrass) *

Why do you assume menstruation is embarrassing? You seem to have some issues yourself. Some people might not feel comfortable about talking about their bowels, I certainly don't want to hear about what happened when you went to the loo. For all you know he has a loved one who died of bowel cancer (I do and it is a pretty awful death) and that upset him.

The OP will look a fool at an ET if Mr Smith from accounts and Mr Jones from sales turn up and say they were also advised to go home when they were suffering stomach cramps because of IBS. My daughter suffers from IBS and she says it is much worse pain than any period pain she has ever had. If they can prove they would or have treated men with stomach cramps the same it is not sex discrimination.

Address what happened, don't make stuff up.

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