I Didn’t Tell My Prospective Job That I Was Pregnant — And They Were Pissed

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was managing a fitness center and teaching Pilates. It was a fun job that combined two things I really enjoyed: fitness and business. I honestly loved going in to work everyday. However, once I found out I was pregnant, there was one small problem, and it wasn’t the problem you’re imagining. I actually wasn’t concerned about the physical aspects of my job with my growing abdomen. As it turns out, I taught Pilates up until my sixth month. I was concerned because my paychecks had started bouncing and I knew that the owner of the gym was in financial trouble. As a soon-to-be mom, I felt uncomfortable working in an unstable situation when I would have a dependent on the way.

So I set off to find a new job, weeks after discovering that I was carrying a child. Honestly, at the time, it just didn’t occur to me that I should tell my prospective employers that I was pregnant. I didn’t have any complications. There was no reason that I wouldn’t be able to work up til my due date and return to work in a timely manner. At that time, I didn’t think that having a baby should matter, one way or another, to my professional life. In many ways, I still don’t.

Therefore, I interviewed at multiple places, entertained offers, and settled on a job without ever mentioning that I was pregnant. In fact, I wasn’t telling anyone aside from my family about my situation at that moment. I accepted a job as the manager of a spa and salon. I liked that my hours would be more flexible. I would work one day on the weekend, when I had free childcare, and save a little on my weekly daycare costs. None of the companies that I had interviewed with had paid maternity leave policies, so that didn’t weight on my decision. All in all, the situation seemed great.

Then, roughly two months after I started work, I realized that I needed to let my employer know. I was through my first trimester. I was to the point where most people start sharing the news. Soon I would be showing, and the whole thing would be hard to ignore. I scheduled a time to have lunch with the owner and give her my news.

I was completely unprepared for her reaction. She sputtered a little and her eyes got wide. It was like she was in disbelief. “Well how much time are you going to want?” “What are your plans for after the baby?” And most of all, “Why didn’t you tell me before you were hired?”

I wanted to respond, “Because it shouldn’t have mattered when I was hired. It wasn’t your business at that point in time.” Instead I sat back and tried to calm myself down. I could already feel my cheeks flushing and I hate feeling emotional in public, a problem pregnant women deal with a lot. I tried to quietly explain, “When I interviewed, I had just found out the news. It was still very new and I wasn’t telling anyone at that point. I wasn’t trying to hide the information from you, it simply wasn’t something that I was talking about then. My pregnancy will not have any impact on my work. I’ll take off the time I need, most likely a month, and I’ll be back to work after that time.”

Looking back, I can’t say that I regret the decision that I made that time. My boss was angry, but she did not fire me. She couldn’t have, legally speaking. She calmed down as my pregnancy progressed and I continued to show up, day after day, growing belly and all. In the end, she even threw me a baby shower.

A woman legally does not have to disclose her pregnancy during an interview. Companies are not allowed to discriminate against pregnant women, though discrimination is difficult to prove. As far as I’m concerned, the contents of your uterus are your business until you choose to disclose them.

(Photo: SerrNovik/Shutterstock)

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    • Andrea

      So here we have an actual story while a couple of days ago someone quoted us the “law”. Of course the employer is gonna be pissed. I don’t blame you for not telling them, but I saw your boss’s reaction coming a mile away. Pregnant ladies are in a NO WIN situation when it comes to jobs. Bosses are never happy. They immediately start computing in their heads how much it going to cost them, how much extra work they will be stuck with while you are out, and how they can legally prevent you from coming back to work for them and/or getting rid of you before you have the baby. Yes I know it isn’t legal. It doesn’t matter. They can come up with a million ways of getting rid of you, all legal.

      Maybe she did calm down after you proved to her you could handle the pregnancy. But my bet is that for every one of them, there are 20 more that would never trust you again. IT SUCKS.

      • Julie

        I was lucky enough to have a boss that was wonderful about my pregnancy from the day I finally broke the news at work. She let me take 3 months before returning and assured me I could take more time if needed as my baby was in the hospital for 4 weeks with GI problems after birth. There was also another woman at work who was due 2 days after me and got the same wonderful treatment. There’s now 2 other women pregnant and things are just the same. I know it’s not like this everywhere, but it does happen. It’s a shame that more businesses can’t be more family oriented and mindful of the cost of raising a family. I was (and am) lucky to have her.

    • T.

      Sorry, I side with the boss here.
      On her point of view, this is a loss.

      • Julie

        T., I’ve read your comments on other posts. I’m really wondering why you read articles that are geared toward mothers and pregnant women when you are so obviously against anything pro-pregnancy. your attitude towards pregnancy and women in general is appalling and you offer up nothing to back your opinions and claims. Women have babies, it’s a fact of life. And those women who do have and deserve to have rights. They also have the right to choose, whether it be where they want to work or who provides their care. Your opinions are just that, and I highly doubt that someone who is self-proclaimed “Not Mother Material” will ever sway the decisions of a woman who has had or wants to have kids.

    • Theresa

      I know you wrote that you weren’t intentionally hiding anything – but if I have a candidate that accepts an offer and does not mention that they are pregnant in the time frame from interviewing to start date…I would be upset as well. There is a lot of time and money that goes into training a new hire and having them leave for a month after just starting is very frustrating from an HR point of view. Yes, of course it is your body and your decision to tell people, but it does seem dishonest to not mention it ahead of time. Actually, I’m not sure why she couldn’t legally not have you return to work. Typically FMLA is given after an employee has been at work for a year, anything less than that is usually considered a personal leave (in which case your employer does not have to hold your position). You lucked out.

      • Vicky H

        So pregnant women shouldn’t be allowed to change jobs?
        Her current employer was bouncing her paychecks, she needed a new job.

        When people are hired, they don’t guarantee that they’ll stay X amount of time or that they’ll never quit or get cancer, or die, or yes, get pregnant. Employers take risks with EVERY new hire.

        And yet, they don’t want to hire pregnant women because they will need a little sick leave? Also, do you know how may pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first trimester? LOTS. That’s why you don’t tell until month three.

      • Andrea

        VickyH: I’m not saying that’s not wrong, I am just saying that management will not want to take an obvious risk. They can’t tell if a perspective employee has or will have cancer, or a sick relative or die, but they CAN tell by looking at a woman that’s 6 months pregnant that she will (at minimum) need some time off very shortly after getting hired. It is not right, and there are laws covering this, but they mean NOTHING. I highly doubt anyone will hire a pregnant lady. Too risky, too expensive, too much of everything.

        And no I don’t agree with this. I wish we had better mat leave laws here. I wish employers would respect family women AND men. I wish everyone could have balance. I don’t believe that will happen in my lifetime..not in this country anyways.

      • Deborah

        Totally agree. And the deal with maternity leave, as I understand the FMLA, is that your employer has to allow you to return to work, but is NOT obligated to save your current job for you.

        I do feel that women who behave this way make it incredibly difficult for those of us who are actually dealing from the top of the deck.

    • b3v

      interesting, I had a conversation on the topic just this afternoon. Basically the situation is, my coworker went on mat leave (which is a year in this Canadian province), they replaced her with someone they hoped could stay as a permanent third…who then left early into her contract, on the one-year mat leave…and then when my coworker came back, she announced within 2 months that she was pregnant again, set to leave end of August…
      did I mention, according to law here, you only HAVE to tell your employer 3 weeks prior to the date of your leave?
      Suffice to say, all eyes were on me, trying to figure out if “I was to be trusted”…and they are strongly inclined to take a guy as a replacement now, so “at least this time we might fill the 3rd place with someone who’ll stay”.
      I agree that you don’t “have” to tell them, but…I can see how people around me are just ACHING to ask me what my plans are (though legally they can’t).

      • Deborah

        Great point. As I understand it the law, the FMLA provides that employers are required to allow employees to return to work at the end of their leave, but are NOT required to hold the specific job they vacated. So the author could have returned to work and found that her job is now a receptionist. Which would have served her right.

        I do believe that women who approach their work with this entitled point of view make it exponentially more difficult for those of us who are dealing from the top of the deck.

        And let’s face it: She knew she was on shaky ground here, which is the main reason she didn’t disclose, regardless of how she chooses to justify her behavior to look better after the fact. She lucked out. Her boss didn’t.

      • Andrea

        Actually FMLA requires that the employee be either restored to the same job she had before leave or an EQUIVALENT position. So no, she couldn’t have been given a receptionist job if when she left she was a manager.

        HOWEVER, you can only qualify for FMLA , you have to have worked for 12 months or the hourly equivalent (1,250 hours) so I’m pretty sure that her boss was not in any way obligated to grant her leave or hold her job. She got VERY VERY lucky.

        And it kinda pisses me off because that kind of attitude makes it harder for those of us that were upfront, that planned every detail of our leave so our bosses wouldn’t be left hanging and were professionals about it. Instead of saying, it’s none of your business what’s inside my uterus and oh, by the way, I’ll be taking a month off in the next few months JUST AFTER I WAS HIRED.

      • Andrea

        They are required to hold the same job you had before you left OR an equivalent one. So no, couldn’t give her the receptionist job if she was a manager before leave.

        HOWEVER, in order to qualify for FMLA you must have worked for a qualified employer (one that has more than a certain number of employees, I believe 50) AND have worked there for at least 12 months or its hourly equivalent. So in her case, her boss wasn’t required to grant her leave AT ALL or hold her job. It is even possible that the gym was a small enough business that they wouldn’t even have been held to FMLA at all by federal law.

        She got incredibly lucky and has a bad attitude. And a lot of gall.

    • Deborah

      This article is so deluded. I agree with you 100% that “the contents of your uterus are your business until you choose to disclose them.” The problem is this statement:

      “I’ll take off the time I need, most likely a month.”

      A business that’s hiring is already in transition, and when the position they’re hiring for is a manager, that transition requires an especially thoughtful approach. The fact that you’re planning to just, oh, *not show up for a month or so* is a huge problem when you’re being hired to run the show.

      This is a tricky area, obviously, and as such requires full disclosure. Kudos to your boss for finding a graceful way to handle your disgraceful behavior.

    • Malissa

      This article struck home for me. I was laid off while I was pregnant and had to look for a job. My sittuation was a bit diffent as I was a high risk pregnancy and did have restrictions but I worked as a paralegal and should have been able to find a desk job no problem. The unemployment office actually told me not to tell anyone I was pregnant because they said that while no one could discriminate against me for being pregnant, I probably would not get a job if they knew, I refused to keep it a secret. They were right. It’s working out ok, money is incredibly tight, but I enjoy being home with my daughter.

      No one wants to hire someone who is going to leave or possibly have some sort of restriction put on them within a year of being hired. That’s just the way it is. If I was not a high risk pregnancy I would not have told anyone until after my first trimester also. It really sucks but it comes down to $$$ for both sides. Employers want to save money and women need to earn it.

    • Nicole

      You should CARE about the company that you work for and your coworkers — not being honest about your pregnancy proved that you did not. It was legal to withhold that information, but it certainly wasn’t ethical or moral. I would hire a pregnant woman, but I would never trust an employee who wasn’t honest about a pregnancy. You can’t blame a businessperson for being mad about you messing up their business, especially when you haven’t done anything to earn their loyalty yet (as a new employee).

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    • Anon

      Yes, you are protected under the pregnancy discrimination act, but imagine this: you are the owner of a small business looking for help. Two months after hiring someone whom you thought was skilled, and trustworthy, they request for maternity leave out of the blue. Did your attitude about that employee change? You hired them on good faith, and then they screwed you. These laws do work, but some people seriously take advantage of the system.

      • Melanie

        Not really sure what your point is…pregnancy is like any other medical condition. Should you have to report to your employer that you have cancer and will be having surgery in 6 months, afterwards you will be out 6 weeks? No. It’s none of their business. When you are only a couple of weeks along it is common enough to miscarry that MOST women do not tell anybody until they are 12 weeks along.

      • Araceli Parra

        Not sure what your point is??? I hope you never own a business and find yourself paying someone to not be there.

    • Ty

      I’m kinda in the same boat. I’m almost 5 months pregnant and looking for a salon to work in. My pregnancy isn’t the only problem, I also just got my cosmetologist liscense. So not only that I’m pregnant I have little to no experience in my field. So basically I have two negatives. As I’m looking for a Salon job I have had 2 interviews and I decided to share the news because I don’t want to have an untrustworthy relationship with the employer. I know there are laws to “try” to protect us pregnant women but the job can simply say no and give a completely different reason why not to hire you even though you are well qualified for the position. I can understand why most woman don’t say anything about their pregnancy during interviews. This is my 3 pregnancy and I have been fortunate to have had jobs while I was pregnant with the other 2. But I look at it like this, if a pregnant woman is willing to work that has to show the employer something. Some women take advantage of the pregnancy and will not work. Trust me working while pregnant isn’t easy espeacially towards the end. But I have a working husband, kids and bills that need me……

      • momtobe1stime

        I am 5 months pregnant and just got a 3 months contract offer. My contract will be done before the baby comes, do I have to mention anything at all?

    • Anon2

      As a manager, I try really hard to find and hire the best people I can to provide the best service for our clients. It takes a long time to find good employees and when I hire them, I need to know if they are going to be unable to work for any reason. If they are the right person for the job it wouldn’t impact my decision to hire them, but if they don’t disclose important info, they have lost my trust. If I can’t trust you then you probably aren’t someone I want to work with.

    • Zolabunny

      I hired some one after they had sat and listened to me say I was desperate for help and needed someone one to cover for me as I could never go on vacation etc etc. Two weeks into starting she instant messaged me while SITTING NEXT TO ME, that she is pregnant (4 months). After giving birth she came back and had completely checked out and took advantage of my generous nature, spending most of her time surfing the net, texting, doing freelance work and watching tv on her phone while pumping for 2 sets of 35 minutes. She was an extreme case but she totally used our company for her pre pregnancy perks and then quit, giving 3 days notice VIA TEXT message. Completely unscrupulous, selfish and gives all hard working, upfront mums a bad name.

      • Steve

        May we know the name of this particular ex-employee so that her name can be blacklisted in our hiring database? We’re in the financial industry. Thanks.

    • Tammy

      Not all employers are covered under the law. In most states, if you have fewer than 10 employees you have NO obligation to keep anyone under any circumstances. I currently have a pregnant employee who has turned from a wonderful trusted assistant to a selfish self-absorbed person who only cares about how much paid time off she gets and is constantly saying that we are “mean” to her. We have literally bent over backwards. The only reason she has not been fired is that she needs the insurance and I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror every day. But after she has the baby she will NOT be returning!!!!