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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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IloveBanff · 11/07/2017 16:08

coddiwomple" why are you insisting that Guy was doing the right thing? He actually went to HR and told them that he is extremely uncomfortable and it’s unprofessional. He complained about her! It was him that queried the OP's use of the hot water bottle and all she said was that it's for pain relief. No gory* details, just that.

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IloveBanff · 11/07/2017 16:09

Sorry for bolding mistakes in above post.

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IloveBanff · 11/07/2017 16:11

The man lies down during meetings and has the fucking nerve to complain the OP is unprofessional.

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puddingpen · 11/07/2017 16:11

I aggree with PPs - Guy was a bit silly but he was trying to do the right thing (you were in pain, so he thought you would need to go home, but felt uncomfortable telling you this). HR were ridiculous and made you uncomfortable and you should complain to them.

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:15

IloveBanff

I don't know what else he could have done.IF he did complain, HR should not have told the OP, the same way that HR is not supposed to tell you that Jane complained about your BO!

I would advise any of my guys to do the same, and contact HR in such a case. They cannot discuss medical details with a colleague, even worst if she is a woman, but they can be concerned about someone in pain. I can get away with discussing female menstruating and period pain , just about, because I am a woman.

I don't know what HR meant when they said he complaint. Being female themselves, their breezy attitude is a bit odd.

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DJBaggySmalls · 11/07/2017 16:15

Dont ask, dont tell. HR need to tell Guy The Snowflake to mind his own business.

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fivegoldenrings · 11/07/2017 16:16

YABU. What next? Pictures of your lady parts? I bet your mum had a vagina too. She did, didn't she?

Humph. You should be ashamed. Next time tell them something more delicate. Try saying you have a baby kitten on your lap and you need to keep it warm.

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UnaPalomaBlanca · 11/07/2017 16:17

Guy is an arsehole.
(HR shouldn't have pandered to him).
Next month, wear an apron to camouflage the offensive hot water bottle.

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Lagirafe · 11/07/2017 16:18

Wow!

Ridiculous and Guy is clearly an idiot but HR should have shut it down. Madness. They clearly have way too much time on their hands!

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fivegoldenrings · 11/07/2017 16:18

It's women Ike you with your wrongy sex parts that make men with willies like Guys go all, you know, difficult.

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:19

Dont ask, dont tell. HR need to tell Guy The Snowflake to mind his own business

completely unprofessional, a supervisor cannot ignore someone in pain! He will be the one in trouble if he doesn't do something, at least acknowledge it. Picture the liability if OP collapse in a couple of days, and colleagues confirm that she had been doubled up in pain and no-one did anything. For all he knows, she could have had anything!

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slug · 11/07/2017 16:20

Cripes!! That old misogynistic line about bears being able to smell periods being trotted out again?????

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MaximaDeWit · 11/07/2017 16:20

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

^ This!!!

I can't believe what I have just read, OP. This sounds like a pretend office in a primary school at playtime, not actual adults. What size is this business you work for? I'd be tempted to escalate this

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MaximaDeWit · 11/07/2017 16:22

I would definitely get it in writing.

What "medical conditions" are you allowed to mention/not allowed to mention at work? (Give them a list - hay fever, colds, IBS, period pains, tennis elbow etc. as suggested above).

Can they confirm in writing that you were sent home because you mentioned to a colleague (who asked) that you were in pain (no reason for the pain given), and ask them to explain why they thought this was a proportionate reaction on their part?

Can they confirm in writing that this was because the colleague was embarrassed on realising that the pains in question were period pain?

Ask whether they are authorising you to take an extra 3 days sick leave a month without threat of disciplinary sanctions (given that you can perfectly adequately perform your job during those days, provided you are allowed to manage the pain in reasonable ways).

Then take their response to an employment lawyer and sue the bastards for sex discrimination. Or enjoy your extra 3 days off a month, whichever appeals to you more.

They are being total dicks, and Guy needs to be handed some smelling salts and told to get a grip.


This is perfect

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AllTheWittyNamesAreGone · 11/07/2017 16:23

You need to wear this subtle t shirt

To be furious for being called out for menstruating at work?
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ThymeLord · 11/07/2017 16:24

Nowhere does the OP say she was "doubled up in pain". Where are you getting this from coddi?

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anchor9 · 11/07/2017 16:24

🙄 genuinely that is ridiculous

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EnidButton · 11/07/2017 16:26

Ffs has Guy ever met an actual woman before?

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CheeseAndOnionIcecream · 11/07/2017 16:27

Just another shining example of a man being unable to deal with women's bodily functions and the fact that a lot of women have PERIODS. Shock

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:27

Suffering from horrendous pain myself, I assume that she was at least croutched a bit on the hot water bottle or at least holding it. If you need to put one on your belly, you are rarely looking relaxed ThymeLord

How would have guy noticed in the first place otherwise?

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user1467718508 · 11/07/2017 16:28

Come on now, Guy wasn't silly.

Women brushing off incidents of sexism in the workplace as 'harmless', 'well-intended', or 'silly' is IMO, unhelpful and disappointing.

Guy was being unprofessional when he made that call.

As OP's kind-of-line-manager, he should have taken her comment as easily as if a male colleague said he had a headache, and recommended she go home if it get's too uncomfortable. Easy.

As for HR...well, I mean...how much worse could they be at staying impartial and protecting their employees?! It sounds like they've lost all impartiality on this matter, b/c the request came from a member of the SMT.

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:28

Just another shining example of a man being unable to deal with women's bodily functions and the fact that a lot of women have PERIODS.

the HR director is FEMALE!

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CheeseAndOnionIcecream · 11/07/2017 16:29

Perfect response from MaximaDeWit.

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:30

As OP's kind-of-line-manager, he should have taken her comment as easily as if a male colleague said he had a headache, and recommended she go home if it get's too uncomfortable

Are you mad? The OP - and posters - are already offended he contacted HR, can you imagine the reactions if he had (reasonably) told her to go home!

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SapphireStrange · 11/07/2017 16:30

coddi, are you being deliberately obtuse? 'd imagine/assume that post was referring to Guy, not the HR director. Hmm

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