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Thursday, January 13, 2005

Stick turns blue: Part 2

My husband, who has been a hiring manager at many jobs during his career, and I were talking about my previous blog, "When the stick turns blue," last night. He thought I should point out that it is illegal for an employer to ask if a woman during the interview process if is pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant.

As a hiring manager, he would not want that kind of personal information because it would only complicate things. If he knows a woman is pregnant and hires someone else, then it would be difficult to prove that it was not discrimination. "It's a difficult situation to be in no matter what," he said.

There seems to be a lot of controversy over this subject. Women have no obligation to tell an employer they are pregnant. BabyCenter has many active message boards on this very topic and the comments support and denounce decisions on both sides of this dilemma.

Many boiler-plate employment applications include this anti-discrimination text: We consider applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender, national origin, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status. These applications should be updated to include "fertility status" as well.


  1. But would a hiring manager be annoyed, exasperated, frustrated or whatnot if he had hired a woman who then told him after two months on the job that she would be taking a maternity leave in 3 or 4 months? It would be interesting to collect that info somehow . . . (Having said that, I believe Mother-in-Chief's husband would be in the "no" column on this question). :^)

  2. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I asked a person who hires people to work for him, the very question, posed in the previous comment. He said, "Yes", he would be disappointed to have a woman he had recently hired tell him she was taking maternity leave in the next couple of months. If somehow he knew at the time that a woman was pregnant (it slipped out; the woman was visibly pregnant), he said, if she were equally qualified to another candidate, it would weigh against her in the hiring process. He went on to say that if the position being filled required a person to really be there for the next six months and it would be hard for the people at the company if that position wasn't filled, he would not hire a pregnant woman. If he thought the person who was the best candidate for the job happened to be a pregnant woman and the position was such that a maternity leave would not create a hardship on co-workers, he would hire her. When I asked him if he would be concerned about possibly being sued for discrimination he said, "Uh, now that you mentioned it I would be."

    This is an answer from a good person, a father of a small child nonetheless. To me, that shows just how deeply embedded this whole issue is in our society. Society needs to think about the issue more and have more dialogue - maybe even a think tank devoted to the problem. :^)

    PS The hiring employer said that he would also be disappointed if a male employee he had recently hired came to him and told him he was taking family leave in a couple of months when his wife had a baby. And that in either case, male or female, even if it were legal to do so, he would not want to let that person go. (As a related example: He had a female employee who went into kidney failure after being at her job for only two weeks. She called him from the hospital, told him that she could be out for months, and offered to resign. He told her he didn't want her to do that).