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Unfortunately, a woman experienced body-shaming when her coworkers misunderstood her chubbiness as pregnancy. As if this wasn’t bad enough, they demanded money they’d gifted her years prior.

Leaving Her Old Job

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OP, a 34-year-old woman, quit her job in 2019 and started her own business. On her last day, her coworkers gave her a gift card with $1,000 in cash, which OP thought was a farewell present.

Here’s where things take a turn for the worse.

When Is It Too Late to Ask for Money? // Shutterstock

Three years later, OP ran into one of her old coworkers, who asked her if she was having her second baby. OP explained that she has never had kids and is a little overweight with a medical condition that makes her belly stick out.

Following the encounter, the HR contact of her old workplace told her that a coworker was demanding back the $1,000 and blaming OP for deceiving them by highlighting her belly.

Quickly Jumping to Conclusions

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OP recalled that no one at her workplace had ever asked her if she was pregnant, and people just made this assumption based on her body type. 

OP, embarrassed about the situation, stated, “I’m feeling crushed and upset that the going away gift actually wasn’t, and not once did any of my coworkers actually ask if I was pregnant.”

Understanding Intent and Perception

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Not only did her coworkers misattribute her physique to pregnancy, but they also did not apologize to OP once they discovered the reality. 

This misunderstanding grew, and three years later, when the apparent truth came out, her coworkers demanded their money back by accusing OP of misleading them.

OP did not mind paying them back, but the situation shattered her self-esteem and confidence, leaving her anxious about her body. 

How a Mistaken Assumption Led to a Disagreement

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Just because OP gained a few pounds, her coworkers blindly assumed her condition was pregnancy and blamed OP when the truth came out later.

OP confirmed her confusion by stating, “Here’s the thing. I no longer have the card, but I am SURE it did not say anything about ‘there’s a kid inside you!’ I am CERTAIN I would remember that because that’s a super big insecurity I’ve had for the past ~5 years since I started gaining weight (medicine side effect).” 

When Gifts Come With Strings Attached

Asier Romero // Shutterstock

When OP received $1,000 from her coworkers on her last day, she naturally assumed it was a kind gesture for her farewell. But after the situation unfolded, her coworkers demanded the money back because OP didn’t have a baby. 

Three years have passed, so the cash is now history, and the email from HR made OP feel very uncomfortable with her body as she pulled strings to gather the money. 

What Happened When the Coworkers Requested Repayment

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When the coworkers requested repayment from OP, she felt devastated. Money was not an issue for OP, but the misconception about her medical complications made her insecure about her body. 

“That is harassment,” one person commented. “Their mistake in giving you a gift (that they never said was for your pg or baby) is not your issue to correct. It was 100% reasonable for you to think it was a ‘goodbye’ gift. They don’t get to decide ‘goodbye because I’m having a baby’ is somehow more worthy than ‘goodbye, I’m leaving to start my own thing.'”

What People Really Think About Gifts // Shutterstock

Another user commented, “Honestly. You should send an email and CC everyone (not bcc) and explain what you’ve learned and how everyone should be embarrassed for assuming such a thing without confirming. That their actions only increased your anxiety around a medical complication you have, and that you hope this experience can be a learning moment for everyone to never assume someone is pregnant.”

More Truth From the Trenches

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“I can’t even believe HR asked for it back,” a third person said. “I am trying to imagine the situation in which they thought they should ask for the money back vs crawling under a rock and dying from embarrassment. I think that may actually be some kind of hostile workplace discrimination.”

Is HR really HR?

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“HR here. If it’s a big company, that office HR person has a superior. If it’s a small company with one HR person, whoever the big boss is for the office/company. If those don’t resolve the issue, an attorney or the local labor board depending on what the issue is,” a final person responded.

How to Repair Relationships After a Disagreement About a Gift

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Disagreements are bound to happen when it comes to gift-giving. So naturally, not everyone is going to be pleased.

In this case, even though OP was not under any obligation to provide justifications for her body type and medical complexities, her coworkers came to her harshly.

Cash Long Gone but Wounds Still Linger

Stock-Asso // Shutterstock

OP clarified that the money was never an issue for her, stating, “The cash is long since gone, but I could pull 1k from my bank to give back.” 

She could make the repayment, but the psychological damage it caused was permanent.

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