Debate Sparked Over Using Pet Names In The Workplace

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 18 Sep 2021 12:17
Debate Sparked Over Using Pet Names In The WorkplaceGMB/PA

A debate on using pet names in the workplace has left people divided.

The matter was discussed on Good Morning Britain yesterday, September 17, in light of a lawsuit where funeral home boss Mike Hartley appealed his sacking.


Hartley was let go after making ‘unacceptable’ remarks to his female colleague, including allegedly calling her ‘Rachi-boobies’ on one occasion.

Hartley lost his appeal this week, however, after Judge Pauline Feeney branded some pet names used for women as ‘demeaning’.

Workplace stock image (Alamy)Alamy

She said, as per The Sun, ‘Calling someone ‘mate’ or ‘lad’ is not a pet name. In our opinion it’s a nickname. They’re not demeaning. However, chick, babes, bobs, honey, hun and sweetie are all demeaning and infantilising ways of referring to women.’


In light of Judge Feeney’s decision, a discussion took place on Good Morning Britain yesterday, and people had mixed opinions on whether using pet names in the workplace is appropriate or not.

Celebrity Chef Rustie Lee said:

It is totally unprofessional for someone you don’t know to rock up, coming out with ‘Hi darling, you alright?’ No, I’m not alright, don’t call me darling, you don’t know me.

[…] Some people aren’t strong enough to stick up for themselves and say, ‘I don’t like being called darling, sweetheart and love. That is for my husband or wife, or whoever who’s dear to be to call me that, not you.’

Journalist Ella Whelan also weighed in on the matter and, while she agreed with Lee’s comments, said a tribunal should not be ruling on the terms people use for each other in the workplace.


Whelan explained, ‘Rustie makes the important point that this is all contextual: it matters if you know or don’t know the person, it matters, like someone said earlier, whether they are good looking or not. The subjective way we deal and talk to each other shouldn’t be regulated by a tribunal ruling.’

The journalist continued to say that women should feel empowered enough to stand up for themselves and ask the person using the pet name to stop.

People on social media also shared their thoughts on the matter. One person wrote, ‘I hear more women in the workplace giving pet names to other women. I haven’t heard men do it in years!’


Another person said, ‘It would be such a shame to scrap pet names, they are a term of endearment. We have a tight team at work & use them for each other, which I love. If someone doesn’t like it, they should say & then we need to stop it with that person.’

Many others agreed that if they’re on those terms with someone, they don’t mind pet names, but don’t like it when strangers use them.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Good Morning Britain, judge


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