Is it legal for a boss to ask you if you are pregnant?

Gina - posted on 08/19/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I recently started a job, I have worked there for about a week. As soon as I went in to work today my boss asked me if I was pregnant. I am only 18 weeks, and really not showing. I have no idea why he asked me that. I asked him if he could legally ask me that and he said that on the application it said "are there medical conditions that they should be aware of." I told him being pregnant is not a medical condition, that would interfere with my job. I am a cashier.. Why would being pregnant interfere with my work! He told me he doesn't know if me working there is going to work out. He said he'll keep the help wanted sign in the window. I dont know what I should do.

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Cidalia - posted on 08/20/2009

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During an interview, it's illegal, and once you have the job, he cannot fire you for being pregnant...it falls under sexual discrimination. If I were you, I would make a formal report of some sort with the department of labor or a lawyer, so that in the event you lose your job, you have some sort of evidence.

[deleted account]

Quoting Esme:

Your boss , although not tactful , is legitimately concerned about when you go on maternity leave to have the baby. He will need to replace you, am I right?

So your boss is in boss mode ... how to save money , stay on budget ,etc. Being pregnant is a medical condition , there are restrictions on you while you are pregnant for the safety of the fetus, no strenous lifting, stop smoking, no alcohol , take your prenatal vitamins , don't fatigue yourself, etc etc

When you get further along your feet are gong to swell and cause you discomfort, you will have difficulty manouvering and standing all shift, your back will be whining as well...plus , if your boss is the caring type, he won't be able to handle watching you exert yourself... bosses are human too. You should have told him up front.

I bet if you went to him and apologized , say you didn't realize your condition would put him in a bad position, that wasn't your intention and explain how you need the job, need the pay to prepare for the baby's safe arrival, remind him baby isn't due for quite some time , he'll be more than open and considerate of your position. Good luck Gina.


 

Helena - posted on 09/11/2009

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Depending on his reason for asking, it may or may not be legal. However, saying to you that the application had a question about medical conditions and leaving the help wanted sign in the window is an indication that he would not have hired you if he had known. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 he can not make any employment decisions based on the fact that you are pregnant. You should file a complaint with your HR department and the EEOC. That way if he does fire you at some point he will need to have a solid just cause that is documented or he could stand to be in some serious trouble.

Stephanie - posted on 08/24/2009

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I agree, you should not apologize and it was very inappropriate for him to ask you. Since you said that you have only worked there for 1 week, it sounds like he is intending to "let you go" if you're pregnant. Sounds like most people here are from the US, but in Ontario they can usually 'let you go' within 3 months for no reason at all.



Haha, you could have made it embarrasing for him, and said "What! No, I'm not pregnant, are you calling me fat??" hehe.

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Erin - posted on 08/26/2009

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This sounds like discrimination to me. If your boss has a legitimite complaint about your work, that's one thing, but if he has indicated to you that he is going to replace you purely because you are pregnant, that goes above and beyond grounds for you to press charges. Either way, he needs to be more professional and keep his nose out of your personal life. You are not required to tell him anything.



Furthermore, I have a friend who worked in retail and continued to work until she gave birth. Her boss was even nice enough to provide a chair for her to sit when she wasn't busy, and was more than satisfied with her ability to do the job. I have a desk job and had no problem being productive right up until I had my children. After that I only took six weeks leave and returned to work full time. People who think that a woman being pregnant will cause a hardship for her employer (provided it's a non-physical job) are sadly misinformed.

Dahlia - posted on 08/25/2009

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Under the EEOC, discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII, which covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. Women who are pregnant or affected by related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations.



Hiring: An employer cannot refuse to hire a pregnant woman because of her pregnancy, because of a pregnancy-related condition or because of the prejudices of co-workers, clients, or customers.



Pregancy and Maternity Leave: Pregnant employees must be permitted to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs. If an employee has been absent from work as a result of a pregnancy-related condition and recovers, her employer may not require her to remain on leave until the baby's birth. An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.



If an employee is temporarily unable to perform her job due to pregnancy, the employer must treat her the same as any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy to do the same.



Employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence the same length of time jobs are held open for employees on sick or disability leave.



Recommendations:



1. If your employers has 15 or more employees, you can file an EEOC complaint against him if he replaces you with a non-pregnant person.



2. Contact your labor department. You should be able to find the number in the break room of your job and call the hotline.



3. Contact a lawyer who specilizes in employment and labor law. Most attorney will not charge a fee to speak them.



4. If it is a larger company (ex. target etc) contact the corporate office and report him. Advise them that he is violative of the EEOC (since target would fall under it because they have morre than 15 employees) and they you plan on filing an EEOC complaint.



5. Also, document, document, document, document EVERYTHING!!!!



I hope this helps...









Under the EEOC s long as a person is qualified for open position.

Jenina - posted on 08/24/2009

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Yes, Legally they can ask you that question in an interview. Your answer should always be there is nothing that will prohibit me from performing the functions of my job. However your boss just approaching you and asking you that out of the blue, it seems to me that He doesn't really want you working there. I suggest that you call legal aide in your town and ask them about the situation because I do believe that can be construed a s harassment. Good luck with the job! I Pray all works out for you in the end.

Norma - posted on 08/24/2009

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Any employer can ask if your expecting, As long as they don't dismiss you for it.

Its not eligal at all. Its just a question, its not sexual, harrasing in anyway. He probably heard you where and ask to know for sure. If he lets you go then you can contact the labour board and report him. he will be fined, and you can collect lost wedges. Good luck to you. I hope it all works out. your boss doesn't sound like he likes woman much.

[deleted account]

Sorry, but this is the worst advice ever. APOLOGIZE? What for? She should have told him up front> are you kidding me?

[deleted account]

No, he cannot ask you, and you don't have to answer- if you work for a company that has the Human Resouces dept, go straight there! Yes, technically you can't be fired for being pregnant but, believe me, they can pin you on anything- and I mean anything- from taking a pencil home to using the company phone for personal calls (such as calling your doctor to make an appt.). I am not sure where you live, but most states do not have strong labor laws, if any, so you need to protect yourself. Put it in your HR file that your boss asked you about your pregnancy or file a complaint with your local work equalization office(not sure what it's called, but they deal with labor and work-related matters, it's a state-run office)- Good luck.

Amber - posted on 08/24/2009

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I don't want to be the 'mean one' but being pregnant does change things at work. I am not saying that as a pregnant women you can't do a job as well as a non-pregnant women. But there are things that change. Morning sickness (if you get it) not being able to stand as long (i had health issues that only allowed me to work 6 hours a day) and doctors appointments. Of course you can simply put a chair behind the register and keep on going, schedule appointments after work, and press through morning sickness. Being pregnant IS a medical condition, not to say it's a bad one, it just is one. I am in the military and that may be why I see it that way, but I can see where the employer would feel he has the right to ask (bc of the question on the resume). Im sorry if this offends anyone.

Mireya - posted on 08/24/2009

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Laws varies from state to state in US. As a general rule employers are not advise to ask that question because in most states -if not all-there are specific labor laws protecting pregnat women. To document this incident, you should write a letter to his superior and him, describing the conversation and expresing your concerns. But do this after any kind of probation period expired.

Esme - posted on 08/24/2009

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Your boss , although not tactful , is legitimately concerned about when you go on maternity leave to have the baby. He will need to replace you, am I right?



So your boss is in boss mode ... how to save money , stay on budget ,etc. Being pregnant is a medical condition , there are restrictions on you while you are pregnant for the safety of the fetus, no strenous lifting, stop smoking, no alcohol , take your prenatal vitamins , don't fatigue yourself, etc etc



When you get further along your feet are gong to swell and cause you discomfort, you will have difficulty manouvering and standing all shift, your back will be whining as well...plus , if your boss is the caring type, he won't be able to handle watching you exert yourself... bosses are human too. You should have told him up front.



I bet if you went to him and apologized , say you didn't realize your condition would put him in a bad position, that wasn't your intention and explain how you need the job, need the pay to prepare for the baby's safe arrival, remind him baby isn't due for quite some time , he'll be more than open and considerate of your position. Good luck Gina.

Becky - posted on 08/23/2009

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He has no right to ask you that and there are laws that protect pregnant women please contact a lawyer or your local labor department this is a lawsuit waiting to happen as a former supervisor this is the most ridiculas thing that a supervisor could do and who does he think he is anyway why is being pregnant an issue so sorry he has an issue please do not take this it is very illegal

Nikki - posted on 08/23/2009

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Well I'm not sure if he was right or not? Maybe he was just asking to be nosy? or maybe he asked about medical conditions b/c u will be on your feet a lot. Ankles and feet swell and u could retain water... there are many possibilities.

Sherry - posted on 08/23/2009

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They can ask but cannot deny you future employment or hours because of it. I suspect he's asking because he wants an excuse to cut your hours or let you go. If he does-call the manager of the store or the HR department. If they won't fix the situation then contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision. Their # should be on the bottom of posters in your break room areas. It's a law for these posters to be posted wherever employees can read them or use the info. I hope this help you. I had a similar situtation when I worked for a world wide fortune 500 company 7 years ago. I didn't get my job back (didn't want it anyways) but I did get a settlement and was a stay at home mom for the first 3 years . :O)

Lisa - posted on 08/23/2009

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It really depends on the state that you live in. In all states it would be agianst the law to fire you just because you are pregnant. BUT there are was around it for example in Florida there is a 90 day window for the employer to see if it is going to work out during which time no reason has to be listed for a layoff during a probation period.

My advise is to look it up on the internet for the laws in your state.

Sharon - posted on 08/21/2009

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Depending on where you are pregnancy can be considered a "medical condition". I don't like it but unfortunately it is true in some states.

[deleted account]

I agree with Cidalia. You need to document the incident with specific such as the date or dates it happened, and make a formal report. His comments are illegal. You never need to inform your boss you are pregnant. All he needs to know is if you will be leaving the position for disability. You should also contact the HR department if you have one.

Emy - posted on 08/20/2009

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Of course not! He should have known better than to ask, if only for legal reasons.

Stephanie - posted on 08/20/2009

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if you already work there then he can not fire you for being pregnant. you can fit the legally in court for discrimanation. but yes, he can ask you if others in your job have been telling him but you. they do have to kinda know due to sooner or later you getting sick, bathroom breaks alot, and birth and then being off for at least 6 weeks. i know that i have had my bosses ask me during interview if i plan on having a baby within the next year.

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