HR Director Forces Pregnant Employee To Buy Special Maternity Clothes To Fit The Company’s Dress Code Policy, It Backfires In Her Face

Like it or not, we’re all required to wear clothes at work. I know, shocking! Whether it be a specific uniform to make you look all the more presentable for those well-paying clients, a specific uniform to prevent a tragic accident from happening, or a special uniform because HR said so.

The last option is particularly important for the story we’ll be delving into today. A Reddit user, nicknamed itcoop, shared what happened a couple of years ago, when a worker and HR got into a disagreement about dress code. But it’s never as simple as that, is it? It definitely isn’t, as a case of good ole malicious compliance followed!


Make sure to leave all your thoughts in the comments section below, and tell us—has something like this ever happened to you? Were you ever asked to change what you were wearing in honor of the dress code? And if you find that you’re craving another malicious compliance story, I’ve got you covered. Now let’s get into it!

More info: Reddit

Lots of companies have a dress code—a set rulebook for how an employee should present themselves—yet sometimes things get out of hand


Image credits: Cadeau Maestro (not the actual photo)


Getting dressed for work every single morning can get exhausting really quickly, especially when you get a case of ‘I have nothing to wear-itis.’ In that case, having a set work uniform and a clear dress code can be helpful in not looking like a toad inside of a castle; some things are just not meant to go together.

However, when management and HR get super set on everyone looking perfect, especially when it comes to targeting a pregnant worker to the point of her bursting into tears, one must ask themselves whether things are getting a little bit out of hand.


Reddit user itcoop, who was put in the middle of such a situation, shared the story on the r/MaliciousCompliance subreddit, garnering an impressive 13.6K upvotes. Let’s have a closer look at what exactly took place. Spoiler alert—there’s a happy ending coming!

One Redditor shared a story where a pregnant employee was pressured to comply with strict dress code rules, leading to some malicious compliance



Image credits: itcoop

Not only had her privacy been compromised, but a member of HR came up with highly specific dress code rules that saw her unintentionally breaking them

Image credits: Vanessa (not the actual photo)

Shall we look at the technicalities and practicalities of having a dress code at work in the first place? According to Indeed, a dress code policy is a document that outlines the appropriate dress code for a company’s employees, varying from company to company, so as to represent the culture and industry type.

If, for instance, employees come into contact with clients, they typically need to dress professionally and neatly to make a favorable impression. On the other hand, employees in manufacturing or engineering companies will often need to wear protective clothing and safety gear. Yet, what remains consistent is the fact that the employer determines how detailed the dress code policy is.

Usually, the main rules include wearing clothing that’s in good shape, clean, and without holes (although some more fashion-forward companies would potentially ignore this one). One must maintain an acceptable level of body hygiene, so as to not chemically poison their coworkers with horrid B.O.

The rest, such as how revealing and casual clothing can be, and whether employees are allowed to showcase their piercings and tattoos, is very dependent on the company image and its needs. Although one can argue that it limits self-expression, at the end of the day, it’s company policy, and not following it can end up getting one fired.

Employers can even take it one step further by requiring employees to wear specific uniforms. As listed by SHRM, some reasons why an employer may want to do so include safety considerations, branding consistency, appropriateness and less misinterpretation of rules, as well as increased productivity.

A study by L. Moody concluded that uniforms can provide the wearer with a sense of community and team belonging, as well as a sense of professionalism and pride. If the right uniform can influence how an employee feels, their happiness and their ability to do their job, it in turn is likely to influence performance and productivity, which is essential for a business to thrive. However, if uniforms are not well thought out, they can hinder performance.

Image credits: itcoop

Thankfully, the manager had her back. She came up with a clever plan to use the company’s own rules against itself, in an act of malicious compliance

Image credits: Tim Gouw (not the actual photo)

Employees’ appearance can still qualify for legal protection in some situations, despite what is being asked of the dress code. Certain matters such as disability, religious requirements, or other case-specific issues, may require accommodations and flexibility on the employer’s part.

In this case, we have a very difficult situation that deals with both workplace bullying and the invasion of personal privacy. Bullying usually involves repeated incidents or a pattern of behavior that is intended to intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate a particular person or group of people. It has also been described as the assertion of power through aggression.

Work can’t seem to just remain as work when family members get involved. Let’s start from the beginning with the fact that Kelly should have never told the OP that she was pregnant, nor about her issues with her mom.

Secondly, the pressuring of a pregnant woman to wear a very specific style of clothing seems incredibly inappropriate. A new wardrobe, especially when considering the fact that a woman’s body changes throughout the pregnancy, can be a costly investment to begin with, and some will not be able to afford branded maternity clothing.

For instance, loose-fitting maxi dresses, flowing skirts and tops, oversized button-down shirts, large sweaters and cardigans, and jersey-style shirts and dresses that are soft and stretchy all work well on pregnant bodies; however, those may not meet the strict workplace dress code guidelines.

Image credits: itcoop

Thankfully, the situation got sorted out, yet it could have led to a very nasty lawsuit, or at the very least, the loss of a talented employee. As the CEO said, “You can’t fire a pregnant woman for what she wears.” However, she should not have been put in this situation in the first place, in my honest opinion.

Lesson from this one: don’t work with family friends, especially if they’re working in higher positions than you are. They know too much, they have too much power, and they can turn on you in a second just to get what they want. And you can’t escape them after work.

Let us know your thoughts on this in the comments. What would you have done had you been put in such a situation? Has something similar happened to you or someone you know? Enjoy the responses from fellow netizens, dear Pandas, and I shall see you in the next one!

TL;DR—don’t work with family friends or relatives as they may use their power to make your life hell. Many people online supported the way this was handled

However, there were those that believed this was handled poorly. Leave us your thoughts in the comments below!

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