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When Skirts are Too High and Shirts are Too Low

I seemed to have piqued quite a bit of interest when I mentioned my personal Samantha Gets Sent to HR episode. Really, the story's not all that. But I suppose it's not something everyone is lucky enough to experience, so I shall share.

It all started the night of the local PR awards last year. Which, BTW, we swept so embarrassingly that my boss limited how many we can enter this year. Anyhoo, we had purchased two tables for the event, and most of my department was there. This was like the tenth year I'd gone to this thing and it seems every year I dress less and less formally. This year I was feeling rather daring (and rebellious) so I wore a pair of black satin tuxedo pants and a deep red corset top that's made to show your bra straps. The bra was black. I didn't think too much of it. I knew it was a little risky, but anyone who knows fashion wouldn't question it.

But there was this one person on our staff who is not female and who attended along with his wife who is not attractive and is in fact actually rather dowdy. And apparently, we were paying this staff member $45,000 a year to sit around and complain about me because that is certainly all this staff member ever seemed to do. And the following Monday morning, this staff member went to our boss and complained about the way that I was dressed at the event. He said that he was "embarrassed."

Are you totally rolling your eyes yet???

So the boss said that he would talk to HR, but he didn't think there was anything that could be done because it was not at work or even a work event. Which I'm sure is what HR told him because the HR department has one purpose and one purpose only: to protect my company from being sued. And since they probably didn't see any way that they could be sued over this, I'm sure they chose to take no action on it.

I know everything that went on between this staff member and the boss because, as I said before, he spent every minute of every day talking about me and complaining about me and trying to stir up a coup against me and luckily there are people in the department who do actually like me so they would tell me every unkind word he spoke.

Fast forward a couple of months into last summer. Summer. In Memphis. With 90 degree temps and 90 percent humidity. We are business casual at work, so we're not required to wear hose, etc. In the summer, I mostly wear skirts (above the knee as is the current fashion), high-heeled sandals, and casual tops.

Late one afternoon, I get an email from one of the directors in HR. She wants me to stop by her office at 9 the next morning. Well, you think, that's never good. But I had the evening to consider what the meeting might pertain to and it was not hard to determine that it might be this.

She told me that "several people" had complained about the way that I was dressing - that it just wasn't "professional." My tops were cut too low and my skirts were too short. There was concern that I wasn't properly "representing the organization."

I said, "Look, I respect your opinion and I'll be more conscientious about what I wear, but I'm gonna tell you something: I know where this is coming from, because I've been told by people in my department, in other departments here and people at the hospital across the street that this staff member badmouths me everywhere he goes. So pardon me if I don't put too much credibility in this complaint.

"The fact is, I have big girls, and shirts that really aren't even lowcut APPEAR low on me because you're going to see a little bit of cleavage. It's summertime and I ain't wearing turtlenecks."

She didn't make me sign anything and it didn't go into my permanent record or anything.

When I told Big Daddy about it that night, he said, "Those people just don't know how to work around a sexy woman."

Which is true, really. I felt like I was being discriminated against for having a curvy figure. Cause there are women well over 300 pounds on the 5th floor that wear LEGGINGS to work and believe me, it's pretty fucking indecent but no one complains about THAT.

Shortly after this we had a big dinner meeting with the Board and the entire staff of my company and my boss gave our department the "please dress conservatively" speech. I went out and bought a conservative plum-colored pants suit which I wore and you can't imagine the comments I got - from VPs on up to the Chairman of the Board..."Have you joined a convent or gone lesbian?"..."Who'd you borrow that suit from?"..."I liked the old you better."..."I've never seen you dress so conservatively."

They weren't compliments.

I answered each one of them, "My boss made me dress like this."