Woman Told 'Don't Be On Your Phone At All' While At Work During Conversation Cut Short By Boss Responding To A Text

Hypocrisy in the workplace might be more distracting than a cell phone.

Boss telling worker not to use phone at work TikTok TikTok

A woman named Sydney Littlefield posted a video to TikTok describing an encounter she had at her corporate job that left her feeling dumbfounded and had hundreds of people roasting her boss in the comments.

Anyone who’s ever worked a job as part of a team can attest to there being some kind of etiquette, but Littlefield’s boss seems to be taking it a little overboard with the request that they had for her on her third day at the job.


Her boss told her she couldn’t be on her phone at work, even during her break.

In the TikTok video posted two days ago on March 27, 2023, which received over 559,000 views, Littlefield explains that this is “an actual conversation I had on like [the] third day of my first ever corporate job. I didn’t know any better.”

“Hey Sydney, could you come here please,” she says, donning the sun hat she used as a prop to show when she was mimicking her boss. “Yeah I just got off my lunch break, what’s up?” she asks, this time as herself.

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Her boss says that that’s “exactly” the problem, that they saw her on her lunch break and had something to say about it. They said, “Yeah I couldn’t help but notice that you were on your phone for about 15 straight minutes.”

Labor laws vary state by state, but it’s general practice that employers are unable to dictate what you do during your break period. According to Matthew & George Attorneys at Law in Los Angeles, “Employers have some control over when employees take their breaks, but they cannot control what they do during breaks.”

The Department of Labor states, “The employee must be completely relieved from duty for the purpose of eating regular meals. The employee is not relieved if he/she is required to perform any duties, whether active or inactive while eating.


Confused by what her boss was trying to get at, Littlefield continue to explain herself. “Yeah, I was on my lunch break — my 30-minute lunch break. I ate and then I checked my email [and] my phone, texted my mom, and now I’m here.”

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Her boss said ‘don’t be on your phone at all’ during the day, at any point.

“Yeah, I just want to let you know it’s really not a good look to be on your phone for so long,” her boss told her. Understandably confused, Littlefield explained that this was the first time in five hours that she had checked her phone and she had been on it for about 10 minutes.

“What I’m telling you is we don’t want phones in the workplace,” her boss said. When Littlefield responded that she was actually not in the workplace, her boss doubled down and said, “again, don’t be on your phone at all at any point during the day.”


To her amazement, her boss ended the conversation short as they scrambled to look for their phone and said “oh hold on a second I have a text coming in.”

According to Moshes Law in New York, “an employer does have the right to limit or prohibit an employee of personal cell phone usage during company time and hours.” However, they make note that this policy should be applied “universally to all employees,” and if it isn’t, then it could be determined that illegal discrimination is taking place.

One of the top comments on Littlefield’s post joke that the text coming into her boss’s phone was “hi this is Sydney. I quit.” Someone else joked that she should have just grabbed her phone and walked away, but many were critical of the boss’s request.


After all, they can’t dictate what she decides to do during her lunch break.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Keep up with his rants about current events on his Twitter.