Great Moments In HR History: Tight Pants


I’m no fashion guru but I’ve had my fair share of wardrobe discussions. Back in the day, some dude popped his head in my office and said, “Take a look at Betty.”

I know better. Before I looked, I wanted a warning.

“Camel toe,” he said. And he laughed. Hard.

I scowled.

“Things are tight.”

Right. Okay. Better.

So I called Betty and asked her to come and see me. Probably not the best strategy — but I didn’t want to walk to her cube and ask her to follow me. That’s worse.

Betty walked into my office and my associate was right. Things were tight. I explained to her that she wasn’t in trouble. I wasn’t mad. I’m not judging her. I said — people are talking about your outfit instead of your work. FYI. See you later.

She asked, “What the hell is wrong with my outfit?”

And I said, “It’s tight.”

Not only was it tight, but the heels were high. (FYI — of course they were. You can’t wear tight pants to work without heels.)

Betty looked like she wanted to smack me in the mouth. “You are always harassing me, Laurie. I’m going to complain.”

Sigh. True. I’m such an asshole.

I said, “I told you… you’re not in trouble. I’m just giving you a head’s up. As a woman. You might want to change.”

She said, “Oh I don’t think so.”

Drama. Stormed out. Clomp clomp clomp goes the trolley.

Her manager called me later in the day.

“Betty is pissed.”

“I don’t care.”

“She thinks you’re harassing her.”

“What else did she say?” I asked.

“I’m not sure I want to tell you,” he said.

Turns out Betty thought I was harassing her out of jealousy. I was too fat to wear clothes like her (quote) and I was a total bitch (also a quote). I had it all wrong, by the way. No one was complaining about her outfit. If anything, they were complaining about how awful I am.

He said, “She wants to lodge a formal complaint.”

Right. Okay. Great. About what?

“I dunno,” he said. “A formal complaint that you’re an awful bitch.”

We laughed.

I said, “An awful fat bitch?”

Apparently so.

So I said, “I report to the head of HR. You know how to reach her. Have at it.”

I never heard another word about this, but it just goes to show you a couple things about working in HR.

  • Women can be their own worst enemies.
  • No good deed goes unpunished.

And here’s another thing: camel toe never goes unnoticed at work.

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