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Woman Berated By Her Boss For Taking A Sick Day Because Of Her ‘Horrific’ Period Cramps

Jonathan Borba/Unsplash

We’ve likely all had to call off work at some point, due to illness, emergency, or mental health.

But most of us have also had one of those bosses who thought no reason was good enough to call off work, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor Fun_Ad1027 woke one morning with terrible menstrual symptoms and felt unable to walk around, let alone do her job.

But when she was reprimanded by her boss for being caught at the store buying feminine products, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to call off.

She asked the sub: 

“AITA for taking a sick day for period cramps?”

The OP woke with terrible menstrual symptoms. 

“I woke up in the morning with horrific period cramps. I always get them the worst on the first day of the period, and then they get better as it goes. It also always starts at 2 am.”

“So I woke up at 2 am with cramps, knew my period was coming, went and put a pad on, and got back into bed.”

“Usually putting a pad on makes the cramps less severe, I think it’s probably a mental thing, but it works.”

“However, this time, it didn’t. They were so bad that I couldn’t get to sleep. And they weren’t just the achy cramps, they were the sharp ones that feel like getting stabbed in the vagina every time you move.”

The OP decided to call in sick.

“I was awake the entire night, even on painkillers. My alarm went off at 7:30 and I was exhausted. I got up for a shower and my insides felt like they were being squeezed super hard.”

“I just dropped back down onto my bed, grabbed my phone, and called in sick to work. They asked the reason and I was honest.”

“I said I had horrific cramps, and the person on the phone went, ‘Oh. Right… Okay,’ and put me down as sick.”

The OP later decided to run an errand.

“Halfway through the day, the cramps eased enough to get out of bed, and I went to the shop to get some more pads as I was running low.”

“At the shop, I saw my coworker buying lunch. He raised his eyebrows at me and shook his head.”

“I even held up my packet of pads to show him I was there for a valid reason.”

“But he didn’t say anything and left to go back to work.”

The OP was then reprimanded by her boss.

“This evening, I have been berated by my boss for missing work for a non-valid reason and that if I was well enough to go to the shops, I was well enough to go to work.”

“So obviously my coworker ‘snitched.'”

“So are period cramps not a valid reason? If I had a stomach ache, they would let me stay home.”

“Am I seriously an a**hole for staying home?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP had a valid reason to call out, store or no store.


“You could have been vomiting and went to the store for ginger ale.”

“You could have been having a bad mental health day and went to the store for comfort food.”

“You could have had no sleep and needed more rest to be safe to drive to work or the store.”

“What’s the point behind all these hypotheticals? They are all entirely valid reasons for calling out. If you have the sick days, they are yours to use for whatever reason you have or want, regardless of how valid someone else might find it or not.”

“Furthermore, I would recommend talking with HR about this. Your employer berating you, especially off the clock, is inappropriate, especially when it concerns reproductive health.” – thatsharkchick

“I don’t give reasons for when I call out. I simply say I will be out today and back tomorrow, the end. It’s none of their business why I’m not at work. I am entitled to sick days.” – spitfire07


“I’ve had cramps so bad, they put me in hospital. I’ve had to take a fair few sick days for period-related reasons.”

“It is what it is. Cramps can be completely debilitating.” – CrystalQueen3000


“Period cramps are an absolutely valid reason to take a day off.”

“It’s so stupid of people to assume that it isn’t.”

“Feel better soon OP, and if the pain gets unbearable, visit a doctor.”

“Your boss and coworker are the AHs.” – justbrowsing66045

“Every now and then I get horrible cramps, sometimes starting days before my period actually starts, and they’re always the worst that first day before kinda easing off. Once, the pain was so bad I was nauseous and seconds from throwing up, and I went to the ER.”

“That first time they didn’t do anything since I was actively on my period, but the next time they did an actual ct scan and other tests, and found my ovaries apparently create hemorrhagic cysts at random that effectively ‘stop up’ my system and cause distress during my periods.”

“The best I can do, according to them, is take plenty of painkillers and wait to pass them each time. It’s never gotten so bad I had to leave work or call in sick, but that might be my pain threshold vs how serious it actually is.”

“Everyone’s periods are different, and don’t be ashamed of prioritizing your own health!” – TheBat18

“NTA. In addition to people potentially being able to feel better later in the day, after additional rest, you were getting supplies to deal with the medical issue for which you missed work.”

“I don’t know where you live, but here in the US, a lot of the places that sell pads also have pharmacies. Your coworker’s a d**k. Your boss is also a d**k and something of a moron.”

“No one’s wasting a sick day to go to the grocery store.” – Silamy

“I took a sick day because of cramps on Friday. Were they the horrible, vomit-inducing pain-level cramps I used to get as a teen? No.”

“But I felt so physically drained, and the ache of cramps, a headache, and lower back pain that… I slept for 18 hours. That was me listening to what my body needed.”

“No one else, other women included, should judge how menstrual symptoms are handled. We all experience them differently, and our tolerance levels are not the same each time.”

“NTA.” – attakburr

Others recommended going to Human Resources (HR) with this.

“OP, please go to HR with this. I know it sounds scary, but that is blatantly unfair and misogynistic to be real. NTA and take care of yourself.” – anothersip

“F**k your boss. NTA, you can take a sick day for any reason you want. Period, mental health, just need a day to see friends, it’s YOUR time that you are owed as per your contract.”

“Ignore that a**hole boss, and if he persists, go to HR for sexist harassment.” – yunenennn

“He’s already stepped well over the line of reasonable or appropriate. OP, go to HR and file a formal complaint against him, the co-worker who took the call, and the snitch as soon as you’re able to return to work.” – SaturniinaeActias

“NTA, I’m in New Zealand so there might be different cultural norms, but when I was a manager we were taught by HR that going to the shops was different from working a whole day.”

“Someone could still be too sick to work, but able to shop for essentials. That’s regardless of the reason you’re sick in the first place.”

“Period cramps can be serious and what you describe is a totally legit reason for calling in sick.” – Grevillian

“NTA. Sucks that the coworker snitched. However, you do NOT have an obligation to disclose to your employer the specifics of your symptoms.”

“This sounds like something to go to HR about because there is a clear as day rights infringement.” – ClairbleFun

“Your coworker is a male, and from the sounds of it, your boss is too. Unless you’re taking a ton of PTO for this (which it sounds like this was a one-time thing), they should not get involved.”

“My thoughts when it comes to my female employees is that I don’t have a uterus, so I don’t have an opinion. I’ve also had exes with bad cramps that would leave them in bed all day.”

“Further, I would take this to HR—depending where you live, most places don’t allow for the boss or manager to even ask why you’re sick. The only valid exception right now would be having [the virus], and the question should be phrased, ‘Do you have [the virus]?’ And that’s only because it could affect the rest of the staff.”

“NTA” – Tmoran835

The subReddit was furious on the OP’s behalf, not only because the coworker snitched, but because her boss reprimanded her, and during non-working hours, no less.

Sometimes it’s just part of being an adult to go to the store and get what you need, whether it’s a prescription or soup or more feminine products. Going out doesn’t suddenly make you able to complete a whole shift at work.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.