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To be furious for being called out for menstruating at work?
559

Snuffalo · 11/07/2017 15:04

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.

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Foxysoxy01 · 11/07/2017 15:35

Wow! AngryHmmConfused

I really think you should make a complaint! Imagine if it was your first job and you had been lacking confidence and easily worried Guy would could have really made you feel awful!
I thought being scared of women and their icky monthly episodes was a thing of the past.

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ThymeLord · 11/07/2017 15:36

You should put in a formal complaint about this. For starters, you didn't disclose a medical condition. Periods aren't a medical condition anymore than going to the toilet is a medical condition. If an adult man is so pathetic that he is 'uncomfortable' with the thought of a menstruating female then he needs to go and work somewhere where there are no women. It is absolutely not your problem and your HR department should be dealt with by whoever is higher up the chain. This is absolutely shocking. I almost want you to be making this up OP.

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RhodaBorrocks · 11/07/2017 15:37

Also, I don't have periods, but I do have IBS and on bad cramp days I can be seen knocking back Buscopan with a wheat bag on my belly. That's 'for pain relief' too. You could have had that, not your period. Guy has made a massive assumption, although he may be grossed out by number 2s as well...

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MagentaRocks · 11/07/2017 15:37

You couldn't make shit like this up. Agree you should pursue this. Ask HR if they are telling you that you need to take 5 days sick leave a month in order to not bring such horror into work. I don't see how saying you need the hot water bottle for pain relief is disclosing a medical condition. 1 - it's not a medical condition, 2 - even if you needed the pain relief for a medical condition you still wouldn't be disclosing what that condition was by what you said.

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Maudlinmaud · 11/07/2017 15:37

How dare he. Hot water bottles are life to me, mine burst the other day, so please be cautious.

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amusedbush · 11/07/2017 15:39

RhodaBorrocks

Can you imagine old Guy's face in that situation?? "Oh, no, I don't have my period, it's just vicious case of diarrhoea!" Grin

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SleightOfHand · 11/07/2017 15:39

Maybe Guy likes to be the centre of attention, laying on his back in meetings?? He's probably pissed he can't get attention every month.

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Ohyesiam · 11/07/2017 15:39

They could make it a policy only to employ prepubescent girls, just for guy.

I would make a complaint pronto. You neither initiated this information exchange, or filled in the details.

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AtlantaGinandTonic · 11/07/2017 15:39

Guy sounds like all the prepubescent boys at my school who couldn't cope with the idea that a good proportion of the world's population had a menstrual cycle each month. It's not a medical condition, it's life. It's necessary. for. life. YANBU at all to be upset at being called out.

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mrwalkensir · 11/07/2017 15:40

Did Guy just report that you are in pain. She rang off, spoke to him/ explained and now he's embarrassed he put you in that position. Sounds like he was being sympathetic and HR have been a bull in a China shop

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RockyBird · 11/07/2017 15:41

Get it in writing and employment lawyer could have a lot of fun with that one Smile

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scottishdiem · 11/07/2017 15:42

mrwalkensir

That was my thought. It is possible to be concerned about a colleague in pain and uncomfortable that they are in pain whilst working.

But that is missing the point apparently.

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GoonBridge · 11/07/2017 15:45

Perhaps they should offer a quarantine unit for you to work in for 3 days a month?!

Absolute tossers

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cdtaylornats · 11/07/2017 15:45

Most likely Guy has only ever known women who don't suffer badly and is actually horrified you are in pain.

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TwoBobs · 11/07/2017 15:45

I would email them to clarify that if you need a hot water bottle to relieve period pain they are asking you to call in sick?
Get it in writing. If they agree then I'd be having an extra day or two off a month. They can't complain if it's in writing can they?

To be honest I'd be furious too. OMG! Women have periods, whatever next? It's not like you were making a song and dance about it. He shouldn't complain as he asked the question. Not your fault that he didn't like the answer!

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ChazsBrilliantAttitude · 11/07/2017 15:47

Isn't funny how the only pain condition that HR deems worthy of making a fuss about is one that only women can suffer.

I would ask them whether or not they are going to issue a policy on the disclosure of medical conditions as quite a few people discuss their bad back, tennis elbow etc in the office. Will they all be receiving similar phone calls?

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HoldBackTheRain · 11/07/2017 15:48

I think someone should tell Guy that not all women menstruate like Carrie Grin

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ijustwannadance · 11/07/2017 15:49

I would definately complain.
It would make me question his upbringing tbh. Poor delicate flower.
HR should've told him to go away.

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 15:50

Poor Guy, I bet he has seen some of the threads on here and doesn't know how to react.

Ignore his colleague in pain: will get in trouble
Discuss her private details with her: will be accused of sexism or god knows what.
Does the right thing, contact HR and let them deal with it, as in accessing if colleague really able to work, discuss private and intimate details: still gets in trouble!
He has done absolutely the right thing not to try to discuss medical info with you, but not ignoring the problem completely when you told him you were in pain!

HR could have handled it better however. I can't see what else Guy could have done.

With the attitude of some women nowadays, my own DH would be more than uncomfortable to discuss their menstruating and period pains, whilst he doesn't think twice about buying my sanitary product at lunch time when I am stuck at my desk.

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WinifredAtwellsOtherPiano · 11/07/2017 15:50

I would email back to HR saying
A) is this new "don't disclose medical conditions" policy to be implemented with immediate effect? Because I saw Jane from finance making a Lemsip and Fred from marketing is about to start sneezing now it's hay fever season.
B) Guy shouldn't ask questions if he doesn't want to hear the answers.

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RubaDubMum89 · 11/07/2017 15:50

snuffalo do you not know that bears can smell menstruation? This is a readily acknowledged scientific fact that's mentioned in the film Anchor Man. Obviously, YABVU to be putting the whole office at risk of a bear attack! In light of this I think you should either A) purchase some bear traps to be strategically placed to ensure the safety of your co-workers B) come to work every month dressed in appropriate attire (Indiana Jones / Laura Croft type gear) adorned with appropriate apparatus (lasso, stun gun, cross bow) so that your coworkers are clearly aware you are menstruating, but, are prepared to defend them to the death from bear attacks or C) as mentioned previously, ring Guy every month and inform him that for the safety of the office, you will be off this week, thus wrestling bears at your own home, not in office GrinGrinGrin

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IloveBanff · 11/07/2017 15:50

OP, that was an excellent a PP made above re. someone having the hot water bottle against their back for pain relief. Would Guy have complained to HR then and would HR have behaved similarly? If not, why not?

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BewareOfDragons · 11/07/2017 15:51

You work with complete and utter idiots.

Medical problem. Hmm Even primary aged kids get sex ed and know better!

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Topseyt · 11/07/2017 15:51

Both Guy and your HR department sound like twats.

Periods are part of normal, everyday life. Not a medical condition at all.

I would email back saying that you see no reason to be made out to be some sort of pariah for having a period, that you will therefore not be going home and that prior to this you did actually believe that other adults (male or female) realised that WOMEN HAVE PERIODS.

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 15:51

*accessing? ASSESSING
ffs Blush

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