After a male was shocked to learn that one woman in his office had cramps, he felt the need to share the “disturbing” news with his human resources department. However, instead of explaining to this adult that menstruation is a perfectly normal part of life for many women, they decided to have a chat with the female employee instead of the man who took issue with her monthly flow.
The anonymous woman shared her frustrating experience on Mumsnet and explained what happened when her “sort-of-supervisor,” who for the purposes of anonymity she refers to as “Guy,” walked by her desk while she was using a hot water bottle when nothing else would help with her cramps. “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,” she wrote.
User Snuffalo continues that less than 10 minutes later, she received a message from a HR administrator who is located in a different office:
“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!”
This female employee left the meeting in complete shock that her company would scold her over this situation. “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,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t have had my hot water bottle in a client meeting or even if clients were in the office.”
What upset her the most is how differently a female’s pain is viewed in the workplace. “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?” she wrote. “Am I right to be completely f*cking furious?” We certainly think so.