"I wasn't allowed to laugh." 37 women on the weirdest thing they ever got in trouble for at work.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a... healthy working environment. While many workplaces can be great, others can be anything but. 

Sadly, it is no surprise to know there is a direct link to poor mental health and toxic work environments, and even more so during the coronavirus pandemic which has seen Australians either work from home, or not at all. 

To shed light on those with whose work experiences have been not-so-pleasant, we asked 37 women the most bizarre thing they ever got in trouble at work for. 

Watch How to tell if your boss is a psychopath, with David Gillespie. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

"I was a manager at McDonald's and there was a shared computer in the office that all managers used for doing paperwork, etc. I sat down at the computer one day to do my end of shift paperwork to find that my restaurant manager had left an email open... In it, he had written about me and had sent it to our superior. In the email he called me a 'dirty c**t' and a 's**t'... And instead of him getting in trouble for using such derogatory language about someone, I got in trouble for reading a personal email. That was on a shared computer... Left open for EVERYONE to see."

"I got in trouble for giving a customer too many chips in his hot chips order... Not sure why it was such an issue to fill it up to the top, but alas! Lesson learnt!"

"I was told I needed to spend less time away from the desk and more time finishing projects. I always spent my designated lunch hour away from the desk so I wouldn't do work, but clearly my upper management didn't appreciate the fact I wouldn't work for free!"

"Was told I smiled too much at newbies... I was only trying to make them feel more comfortable, so that was wildly confusing criticism. The aforementioned newbies told me a few months later I was their favourite colleague to work with because I was always so happy so clearly my boss was just a sourpuss."

"I fell out with my manager because I didn't want to go to the movies with her. She was in her late 20s. I was 15. Don't think she was a creep or anything, but she was definitely a bit lonely."


"My reporting manager didn't like that I put 'xx' after emails to my work friends. Pretty fair but I wasn't sure how he knew I was doing that when he was never CC'd in any of them... Long story short, my boss went through my emails."

"My dad was my boss for about three years. He thought it was weird I didn't want to drive to work with him, even though it was the only time I literally had time to be by myself! Sorry dad, you can keep your crappy car music to yourself!"

"My mum said I couldn't work until 3 am (five hours after my shift had ended) to help them do the annual clean before inspections. I was about 14-years-old at the time, and my mum would have had to pick me up herself! My boss was adamant but I couldn't budge and then they were really angry at me. It was pretty embarrassing though when my mum told my boss to eat a D-word...."

"I wouldn't work out of hours to finish off deadline projects they didn't give me enough time to finish during work hours... I resigned a week later."

"Throwing rubbish away! And then having to go pretend I didn’t throw it away and fish through the bin to find it! Apparently some kid NEEDED it!"

"Trying to have a day off work for being genuinely sick! (With doctor’s certificate or an appointment booked in that day) I was grilled about it and made felt guilty for taking the day off. This happened every time I needed to take sick leave. I worked in real estate."

"Got told I had to disclose work relationships to HR. They assumed I was dating my work husband because we were affectionate. (I'm a gay man and he was straight as wood)."

"I wish I was joking, but I got into trouble for caring too much about what I'm paid to do and not being social with my colleagues."

"I got told I wasn’t allowed to laugh… because others 'might not be as happy as I am'."

"I worked at a popular fast-food chain as a teenager where they ran a short-lived promotion — if we forgot to give the customer their receipt, the cost of their meal would be refunded. Of course, people took advantage of this as the promotion was heavily advertised in store. My manager, who was just awful and didn’t like me, told us that if we forgot to give out the receipt and a customer came back to claim their refund, that it would be taken out of our wage. Of course, this very situation happened, my manager was not happy with me and after the threat of losing some of my pay, I went to HR to make sure this was legal. It turns out it was not! I also got in trouble for sitting on a chair for a few minutes when working another retail job. Thankfully, I am not in the retail or fast food industry anymore."


"Refusing to do someone else’s job for them."

"I was working at a pizza place in my teens. I lost an acrylic nail during my shift. A customer found it in her salad."

"Saving a PDF directly from an email into our document management system rather than printing it out, scanning it back in then saving it. My manager literally stamped her foot at me for wanting to save time and storage space!"

Image: Getty. 

"I worked in a jewellery store and we had a juice bar kiosk in front of our store. My boss hated how loud they played their music and I once got pulled into the office and told how disloyal I was to the boss because I commented that I liked one of the songs they played."

"I called in sick to work with the excuse that my grandma had died. My manager ended up ringing my mum and telling her she was sorry for 'our loss'. My mum revealed my grandma wasn't dead, and I never got rostered on for another shift again."

"When I was working in retail, I would use that last hour of my shift while they were closing the register to practise the choreography for Childish Gambino’s 'This is America'. One day my boss takes me to the security room and makes me watch footage of myself dancing and she said 'we were sent this from the main office in Dubai'.”

"I used to work as a teacher's aide at a high school, and 3 of my students were out of class for a reason I cannot remember (likely upset about something) so I was having a chat with them, trying to move them along back to class. A male teacher came up (who didn't know me) and got me + the 3 students in trouble for being 'out of class' and I was here. Good self-esteem boost for me because they were 15, so it was nice to be included in that youthful demographic."


"My sister got in trouble for giggling with her colleague in a meeting. Their boss made them separate like school kids."

"When I was a radio newsreader, I got in trouble for calling the coronavirus a 'deadly disease'. It's when news started coming out of Wuhan... I was told I was being 'sensationalist and fear mongering'..."

"I worked in a deli and got in trouble for not making the sandwiches fast enough. My boss decided to make them himself and timed himself to see if he could do it faster. He couldn't."

"I got in trouble once (well sort of fired), because I asked for time off for schoolies and two formals, my boss at the time said that 'he couldn't keep my shifts' even though I worked throughout my entire HSC, unlike others on staff. Turns out, he just wanted to give his son a job. He ended up calling me two months later and asking me to come back. Which I did. Because it was easy money (Video Ezy)."

"Got in trouble for not getting rid of a rat out of the storeroom at the fish and chip shop where I worked. I said I didn't know how and the boss said 'Spray it with the hose'... He docked my pay."

"In my first job at a pizza place, I got in trouble multiple times for not having all the drink bottle labels perfectly facing the front of the drinks fridge. The owner was a crazy perfectionist."

"I got in trouble for taking too much skin off the oranges for juicing... I also then got in trouble for cutting to close to the red bit of the strawberry too."

"I got in trouble because I was scheduled on breakfast shift by myself (without being trained) and I didn't know how to make the breakfast smoothie.. So the customer yelled at me and then my manager screamed at me and then I had to sit out the back for three hours and wait for lunch shift to start. And then the manager got fired."

"When I worked at Maccas a million years ago, I got a written warning for not 'suggestively selling a dessert' to a mystery customer. It was 7am, and they said I could have suggested a box of cookies..."

"I got in trouble once for wearing jeans on a Thursday (it was before Good Friday) because apparently you can only wear them on Fridays."

"I got in trouble for my tie not being long enough at the law firm I worked at."


"My first ever job was umpiring junior netball games (the kids were around eight to nine-years-old), and I had a mother of a player yell at me for 'favouring one side'.... I was 13-years-old and most of those players didn't even know how to catch a ball."

Listen to The Undone, where each week Emily and Lucy share dating stories and talk about the biggest issue in their world, because... nothing is simple in your 20s. Post continues after audio. 

"I got in trouble for eating my breakfast at my desk. I would get in a bit early every day, make some toast and coffee, and take it to my desk to start my day, which was usually something easy like going through my emails. The general manager told me that the CEO didn't like people having breakfast at their desks because it meant they were 'less engaged'.

"In my first journo job at a regional magazine, I got in trouble for making a cup of tea during my shift. Apparently you were only allowed to use the kettle in the designated lunch hour (which we all had to take at the same time) and any drinks in between had to come from the vending machine (can you imagine vending machine tea?). Apparently boiling the kettle took too long."

"I got in trouble at work when I worked at the cinemas for throwing away OLD POPCORN. I was told I had to 'mix it with tomorrow’s batch'."

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