Interviewing While Pregnant
There are few moments more precious and joyful then finding out you are pregnant! If you're like me, you probably thought through the one-year cycle of bliss (three trimesters and three months home with the babe) and tried to fit it together with the puzzle of your hectic working life. Then, you abandoned that plan for the bigger plan that you have no say in. That seemed to work perfectly in its way, except for one thing: a job transition in the middle of your baby countdown.
I haven't done a ton of research about why the US fails to address adequate maternity. What I have read is that FMLA only applies if you are with the company for over a year and they have over fifty employees, and even then, you have to use all your vacation days before agreeing to unpaid leave. If you don't fall into the first category, I think disability will pay a few hundred for the first few weeks you take off to acclimate to your new bundle post-delivery. After that, unless you have a very generous package and an exceptional contractual agreement with your employer, you may be out of luck.
But what if you have to interview? What if you're taking the job in the middle of this pregnancy situation? Do you say? Do you stay quiet until the offer is on the table for legal reasons? Do you announce before the end of your first trimester even though you haven't even told your family yet? Hard to say.
One experience, which ended with all parties in agreement, has led me to share some wisdom with you today.
First of all, if you are pregnant and you're afraid to say so in the job interview, you may be in bad company. You're going to have a baby. If this employer frowns upon that, chances are you will come up against this disapproval again and again. Is that an environment you want to be in while you're doing the most important job of your life -- growing this baby? Beyond that, New York (and most states) are an at-will employer, so that means both employee and employer can vacate a position at any time with no notice and reason legal or otherwise. It's something you need to know.
What is on your side is equal opportunity employment - a legal creed applicable to all companies with employees of 15 or more (which is most jobs). It says you cannot be discriminated against for your age (over 40), having a disability, national origin, race/color, religion, sex OR pregnancy. Here's what it says about pregnancy:
Pregnancy Discrimination & Work Situations
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, such as leave and health insurance, and any other term or condition of employment.
Pregnancy Discrimination & Temporary Disability
If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.
Considering the culture of the work environment is very important. However, it may not always be possible steer away from positions that aren't a perfect match for you and your baby-on-the-way. Know your rights. And, if you know you are the most qualified candidate for the position, letting them know you're pregnant in the interview may be OK.
And, here's the best news: if you tell them and they accept the information graciously, you know you have found the perfect fit for you and baby. Plan on working extra hard to prove how much the opportunity means to you and start developing a replacement plan to works in the interim of your maternity leave so that your work is covered!
Happy job hunting!
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