Hiding a Pregnancy from an Employer
How many of you have considered, or have actually, hidden your pregnancy from your employer? Maybe you had concerns about being fired, being looked over for a promotion, or you were in the position of potentially being hired by a new employer and worried about your chances if the employer knew you were pregnant..
Although legally, employers are not allowed to discriminate against a woman for being pregnant, many women still face challenges such as being passed over for job opportunities and other career-halting situations related to becoming, as well as being, a mom.
Some women are so concerned and have so much fear about how their pregnancy will affect their job, that they’ll completely hide their pregnancy from their employer, and then take the lie even further by continuing the secret even after their child is born.
In an article by Huffington Post titled “I Hid My Pregnancy And The Existence Of My Second Child From My Job. Here’s Why”, the author discovered a woman who had been working remotely and hatched a plan to keep her employer out of her pregnancy loop. She wanted to keep the job she had worked so hard to obtain and feared her employer would “lighten the load” if they found out.
She had seen similar things happen to other women within the company, where they had gone on maternity leave or were coming back to work after taking it. She was well aware that firing her was not an option, but by making her a temp employee, they could easily stop contracting her for projects.
She worked for a city agency that started out as a temp position, but they ended up keeping her on. However, in the four years of working for them, they never offered her a permanent position, benefits, or paid time off.
She made it through her first trimester and reached the point of announcing her pregnancy when she received an opportunity that would also include a raise, and without much forethought, took on the project, determining she would figure out the logistics later. The project was set to start around the same time she was expecting to be in labor.
At this time she decided she was not willing to risk them offering the opportunity to someone else, and continued to keep her pregnancy a secret.
She discovered that it was pretty easy to keep the pregnancy a secret as a remote worker, with the help of clever camera placement. Several times she considered coming clean, but as the project was near launching, she just kept focusing on completing a successful project.
Delivery day for her baby involved several emails to team members that she had a “family emergency” and would be unavailable for the day. 15-hour induction later, and a sweet baby boy was brought into the world.
She explained in the article that hiding a pregnant belly was one thing, but hiding a crying new infant was a completely different thing altogether. She wondered how she was going to keep the secret going as she navigated breastfeeding, nap time, a 4 year old, and work meetings.
After the project was successfully underway, she once again considered coming clean to her secret, but she never did, just focusing on working hard in order to have a successful project.
Unfortunately, once the project ended, so did her employment as she was let go as a contractor for the agency.
Sadly, she never did reveal her pregnancy to her employer, but even more sad is the fear she had, that led her to keep it a secret in the first place. .
The U.S. Department of Labor says that nearly 85% of women will become mothers during their career, the Pregnancy Discrimnation Act that was passed in 1978 is meant to protect women in the workplace when they become pregnant, and yet tens of thousands of discrimination claims are filed every year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC).
The unfortunate reality is that many women face the same issues and fear the potential discrimination because they have seen it happen time and time again to other women. While pregnancy should not be viewed, or treated, as a career halting situation, many women’s experience says differently.
Thankfully the woman in the article was hired a year later, for a full-time position, by a family friendly company, with benefits and paid time off. Her new employer embraces parenthood, and supports mothers raising their children.
What do you think of this mother’s story? Do you relate to her fears and insecurities? Does your employer support raising a family? You are not alone.