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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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Mollie85 · 11/07/2017 16:31

I feel your pain today too... Confused
I got called out once for using a tens machine. I put the pads - one on my hip bone and one on my back. The little white wire came above the waist band of my trousers and Into my pocket (so I could control the current without fishing into my pants ahem) and someone told my manager I was listening to my iPod at work (no where near my ears).
When I responded it was for cramps, I was told that the wearing of "electrical items" was prohibited unless I had a drs note to support it.

This was in previous job...

I could go on about this for hours (I have endo and a condition called uterus didelphys which means I have two wombs - my periods are simply horrific and leave me passed out in extreme cases) and I know that some women don't get it as bad as others and I know some get it worse, but to discriminate or try to play down someone's menstrual pain to me is just such a horrific thing. It's embarrassing enough anyway when you have man-children like Guy who would probably cry if they saw a tampon, making you feel like that.
It's 2017, yet with certain things I wonder how far we've actually come.

Sorry for the rant. My periods affect my life so much that it is such a touchy subject x.

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NanooCov · 11/07/2017 16:31

Biscuit for Guy. (Cake for you if it helps).

What a bunch of total weirdos.

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MrsPorth · 11/07/2017 16:33

Guy should've said, "sorry you're in pain. Go home if you need to" and left it at that. What a drongo he is.

But this is a massive fail from HR too. I don't think you can let that go. I'd chat to ACAS.

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DameFanny · 11/07/2017 16:34

Found you a brooch to wear OP, special order from Kraken Kreations Grin

To be furious for being called out for menstruating at work?
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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:34

SapphireStrang I am not obtuse, are you?

Guy cannot ignore it or play it down, he cannot get involve. He did the only reasonable thing he could do, contact HR. Up to them to discuss possible confidential information with the OP and assess the situation.

Again, I don't think that HR handled it that well at all, but they are female, so at least they cannot be accused of being sexist.

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nosleepforme · 11/07/2017 16:35

i was on hr team in a previous job. my manager knew when i had my period. I always needed a fizzy drink and lots of chocolate. it was never an issue! if i didnt have my drink and choc and would be acting differently, they would just go out and get it for me.
of course we had staff that would request to go home b/c of period and didnt feel comfortable discussing with (male) boss. if he asked why they went home we would either say stomach ache, not feeling well or would just say "period". it comes with the territory of being a manager and boss or hr.
guy needs to get over himself and just deal with it. if he cant, he cannot take on responsibility of being a manager. hr made too much of a big deal in your situation. not acceptable!

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ThymeLord · 11/07/2017 16:35

It would appear that your assumption was incorrect then Coddi because the OP clearly states that the hot water bottle was just nestled in her lap. I could put anything in my lap right now, sat at my chair in front of my desk, and I have no doubt that anyone standing to the left, right or behind me would notice it. No bending over double needed Hmm

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Algebraic · 11/07/2017 16:35

ShockShockShockShockShockShock no words!

Please troll him by leaving tampons and sanitary wear on his desk daily.

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ThymeLord · 11/07/2017 16:36

Of course Guy can ignore it, what are you on?! Do you think Guy speaks to HR when Keith from IT has a headache and is spotted taking two nurofen in the kitchen?

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Snuffalo · 11/07/2017 16:37

So the more I think about it, and the more I read through the comments here, I can totally imagine that Guy was basically like "Oh my god she's dying what am I going to do" and was in his socially awkward way trying to be helpful... he's never been anything but nice to me and is in his early 50s, single as far as anyone knows, doesn't drink, doesn't go out on work dos, and probably just wanted another woman to tell me it's OK to go home since he would have died of embarrassment to speak of it further with me. I mean I don't KNOW that is how it went down from his perspective, but I can imagine it. He's just awkward, no crime in that.

HR, however, are and have always been a complete shit-show and probably embarrassed him even more, asked him for details, and made it into a huge deal. I don't think I'm going to let it rest, this is totally out of line from them, isn't it? Thanks for all the advice! I went out at lunch and got some stick-on heating pads and some of the nurofen with codeine so I'm feeling better, probably better than I should at work. Smile

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coddiwomple · 11/07/2017 16:37

Guy should've said, "sorry you're in pain. Go home if you need to

A man advising a woman to go home if she needs to because she has menstrual pain! Only if he wants to find himself in court accused of being sexist, or sexual harassment or god knows what. Posters on here are already horrified because he contacted HR!

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EnidButton · 11/07/2017 16:38

He asked her if she was cold so she didn't look in pain or he would've asked her if she was ok.

I can't see what else Guy could have done.

He could've minded his own business. Or said 'oh ok. Hope you feel better soon' and gone back to his office. If he felt the need to help for some reason, he could have asked if he could get her anything or brought a glass of water over or something equally awkward but harmless.

I agree that HR have been ridiculous. They could have just left it at the message and reply. They've both acted a bit weird.

Buscopan might be worth a try for cramping for any sufferers. It really helps me.

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SnickersWasAHorse · 11/07/2017 16:39

Guy was uncomfortable?
Guy needs to get a fucking grip.

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RubaDubMum89 · 11/07/2017 16:39

slug I was just having a laugh and a joke as clearly Ops situation is ridiculous and Guy is a fool.

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EnidButton · 11/07/2017 16:41

Cross posted.

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MessyBun247 · 11/07/2017 16:41

Sorry cant stop laughing at him taking meetings lying on his back on the floor Grin

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fizzicles · 11/07/2017 16:42

Erm, just because HR are female doesn't mean they can't be sexist. This is bat shit OP, I hope you make a complaint.

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SpaghettiAndMeatballs · 11/07/2017 16:42

Guy should've said, "sorry you're in pain. Go home if you need to

This is a supervisor making an appropriate comment upon discovering a colleague in pain

Posters on here are already horrified because he contacted HR!

A supervisor complaining because the source of her pain made him uncomfortable.

Rather different no?

Like... The sugar is over there, feel free to help yourself. Vs. going to the manager because the fact you take your tea without sugar is a disgusting thought.

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SapphireStrange · 11/07/2017 16:43

coddi, perhaps you're just genuinely mixing up Guy and the HR director then.

He did the only reasonable thing he could do, contact HR No, a much more reasonable thing would have been to refrain from clutching his handbag in horror about a woman having period pain, nod sympathetically and say 'Sorry to hear that' and then got on with his day.

Again, I don't think that HR handled it that well at all, but they are female, so at least they cannot be accused of being sexist. The way they handled it rather DEMONSTRATES that they are sexist.

OP, I agree with M0stly's suggestion as to how to write it down and get them to respond. They shouldn't be allowed to act like this and yes, it is utterly out of line.

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user1467718508 · 11/07/2017 16:45

@SpaghettiAndMeatballs Eeeeeexactly! Flowers

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GoonBridge · 11/07/2017 16:45

Women can be sexist!

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BlahBlahBlahEtc · 11/07/2017 16:47

You're on your period! You're not rolling around on the floor shitting everywhere with uncontrollable diarrhea!!

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Muskey · 11/07/2017 16:47

Honestly op I know how you feel. A few years ago I had a cyst removed from one of my ovaries no buggy. Told my boss I was going into hospital for an operation didn't tell him what kind. Was in and out right as nine pins. When I came back to work boss asked if the operation on my back went ok. Looked at boss a bit weird and said I didn't have an operation on my back. Boss then asks what kind of operation did I have as nicely as possible I said it was for a lady problem. Boss then ran away from me as if I had the plague. My view if you don't think you are not going to like the answer don't ask the bloody question. What are HR up to pandering to an extremely over sensitive man. Did he have a mother or sisters growing up.

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ChasedByBees · 11/07/2017 16:51

HR are just being ridiculous beyond words. I wrote write stating your confusion and asking for clarification on:

a) what would have been an appropriate response to the question you were asked. (For all Guy knew, you could have pulled a stomach muscle...)
b) does the policy of not disclosing medical conditions apply to all medical conditions?

Let them drop themselves in it further and in writing.

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StormTreader · 11/07/2017 16:51

"if you’re so unwell you need a hot water bottle"

Youre not unwell, so problem solved!

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