Work & Scars... What to do?

Discussion in 'Self Harm & Substance Abuse' started by Slothbear, Apr 9, 2012.

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  1. Slothbear

    Slothbear Well-Known Member

    Something happened at work today and im not entirely sure on how to handle it if at all.

    Some of the back story.

    Last December i was in the hospital and to make a long story short i was tripping out and put a cigarette to my arm and my hands, now as a result i have burn scars. The ones on my hands aren't as obvious, but the ones on my forearm are kind of obvious that they were made my cigarettes or at least burnt by SOMETHING deliberately. At first i was quite embarrassed and ashamed by it, but now im just trying to move on. While im not exactly flaunting it, im also not really putting any effort into covering it up any more either. I also have stopped with the lame stories and just say i burnt myself and end of story. It isnt the first time i've self harmed but i also wouldn't say that i have a self harming 'problem' or 'addiction' if you will where i have troubles controlling or stopping it. This burning incident was pretty much a one time thing over something that happened while being in the hospital.

    Anyway now getting back on track.

    I came in to work wearing a plaid button down shirt and the sleeves only came down 3 quarters of the way thus showing my obvious forearm scars. My manager walks by me says hello and i go and swipe in and then walk out but stop outside the door for a second to wipe cat fur off my pants(i really need to get a lint roller). My manager then comes back and gets my attention and pulls me into the sign in/training room again and confronts me about my scars.

    Manager: So what are those scars from?
    Me: (completely caught off guard at this point)uhhhhh... why does it matter?
    Manager: Well it doesnt but customers are going to ask.
    Me:....uhhh yaa... well they're just scars.....
    Manager: Well im just completely shocked ive never seen them before
    Me:..... yaaa well i usually try and wear a long sleeved shirt but i guess today i didn't....
    Manager: Well do you have anything you can to cover them with....did you just come like that??
    Me; yaa....
    Manager: Well i suggest this point forward you cover them up.
    Me....uhh..... ok...

    Thats pretty much how the conversation went. Honestly i was just soooo caught off guard that i didn't really even know how to react.

    Now that brings me to the main reason why i made this thread. I realize that people are going to wonder, and more than likely ask, but can an employer actually restrict you from wearing certain things(my case short sleeved shirts) because of a something physically on your body if that makes any sense. I could understand if it was a tattoo that they wanted to cover up, but a scar, something that generally people cant help..... almost like a birth mark.

    Next point, is it even worth it? I don't really want to make a big deal out of it. My work place has no idea of my mental health issues. At the same time though, as much as i want to hide it so people stop asking i also just want to be able to wear whatever i want and not care. Im trying to move on and forget about what happened before because honestly i regret it and if i hadn't been mixed with reality i wouldn't have done it. Im just torn as to what to do. Then there's the factor that i if i did decide to 'fight' it then i'd have to likely bring it up again which to be honest i dont even enjoy talking about. It's hard enough posting this here.
    If it were up to me i'd wear what i wanted and if a customer asked i'd tell them to mind their business, but customers would likely take that as being rude so i cant do that. I wish people would just mind their own business and not be so snoopy into other peoples lives. I feel like its not even my managers business and i feel like i shouldn't even have to be in the situation to explain this to her but it looks like i will. Im thinking of just saying that i was struggling in the past but im trying to look forward and id just like to forget about it and continue wear what i please(of course still following dress code). Or should i just suck it up and wear the long sleeved tops.

    Last thing, do you think this was brought up in an ethical manner? I don't know i cant put my finger on it but i just feel upset over the whole thing. It's probably just because of the whole burn thing and being ashamed of it and what not but i just also feel like theres something more that she did it in an almost rude manner? Or is it just me?

    Please tell me what your thoughts are on this.

    Also for future reference for future jobs how do you tell future employers? Im actually searching for another job(i was long before this happened) and if a colleague or employer asks me about it how would one respond to it?

    Any advice, thoughts, comments etc are welcome.

  2. aussiegal

    aussiegal Well-Known Member

    Wow.. way to catch you off guard. I think I would be quite upset about being pulled aside and questioned. If it was simply to question for your personal safety thats one thing but to change what you wear to please customers??? I totally agree with what you said about if it was a tattoo.

    I have no idea legally where you would stand. I would assume that they would not be able to make you cover up as long as you are dressing by the regular dress code. I was worried about my scars more when they were fresh wounds for my job. I am a teacher. I would cover up in the staff room but would roll up my sleeves when it was just me and the kids. Didn't feel the need to hide around them. My children often asked what I did to my arms. They were only 6 yrs old tho. I told them I had been playing with my dogs and they played rough. That was enough for them. Any adult would have seen through the story but only one adult ever asked and she was a friend and picked up on things straight away anyways.

    I could not imagine customers really asking you. And if they are nosy enough to do so a simple its a scar response would be enough. I live by the motto... Joe blow does not need to know. Heard it said once by someone who self harmed.

    I am wondering if you went back to manager and explained honestly the situation if they would change their minds about making you cover up? I don't really think you should have to but I have found with my boss that the more honest I am with her, the more supportive around my mental health she has been. She came to visit me when I was in hospital and I was completely honest with her. After that she was able to ask me what she could do to best support me and what situations trigger my problems. I am pretty lucky to have someone as understanding as her and i have no idea what your manager might be like, but its worth a thought.

    Good luck and keep us posted with how you go.
  3. pogosticker

    pogosticker Well-Known Member

    I've asked a similar question before.

    Your manager was quite rude, presumptuous, and out of order. The answers I got when I asked this were generally that they can't force you to hide them. If the uniform is longsleeved, fine.. but if they allow you to wear your own clothes, then no, I don't think they can tell you to hide them. It is, as you said, like telling someone to hide a birth mark.. or if someone had one arm, and the other was a stump, telling them to cover up the stump. It's out of line. HE'S out of line. The word has gone from my mind.. but there's a word for what he's doing... sorry, it's gone from my head. :/

    I do worry about this, though.. my scars are thick slashes right down my forearms, and obviously self harm scars.
  4. Slothbear

    Slothbear Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your responses. I'm still not sure what to do. I'm to not worry about it though for now as i don't have another shift for about 2 weeks so i figure i'll just deal with it then. The whole thing work and my mental health things is just a huge mess. I do have an idea of how i could perhaps at least come clean a little bit about it. Im still up in the air over it though. I go away on vacation on sunday and i have a lot of stuff to do between now and sunday so im just trying to forget about it until i get back and deal with it then.

    I don't have to wear a uniform, however there is somewhat of a dress code but not really... it's more or less business casual type attire. I may just continue to wear whatever and if she confronts me about it again i might just explain.

    There have been one or two customers ask me about it and i usually just give them lame excuses like i burnt it on the stove or something. I figure a customer isn't going to call me out on a lie, sure they may have their thoughts but when it really comes down to it they're just customers im not trying to be their friend so i dont care what they think about me... and at this point i dont even care what they think about where i work either. I've also had several customers who i could see them looking at my marks but not say anything and i pretty much just pretend i didnt notice them and continue on as if i didnt have them. I've had a few colleagues confront me about them and at first i gave them some lame excuses(the stove burns has been a popular one even though its obvious they're not... especially the ones on my forearm) but lately i've just decided to be fairly honest with people who ask and just say they're burn marks... if they ask further i tell them they're from cigarettes. They usually freak out at that point and i just say dont worry its a one time thing its a long story but it was just a one time think. They usually just assume i was drunk when it happened. haha. Which doesn't really bother me to be honest... my work place already has thought i was an alcoholic for a long... bahaha.
  5. No1NeedsMeK

    No1NeedsMeK New Member

    Legally they cannot make you cover them up. If long sleeves were not in the dress code when you got hired, they can't enforce it now. If it becomes an issue, it can be discrimination
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