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Workplace advice guru's perfect response to boss who wants to fire new employee for being pregnant

The employer wanted to fire the new pregnant employee because they felt they were lied to at the time of the interview.

Workplace advice guru's perfect response to boss who wants to fire new employee for being pregnant
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Gustavo Fring, Inc. Magazine

There's a lot of discrimination between genders when it comes to work. Women are often not preferred for some jobs because they might need breaks during menstruation or when they get pregnant. However, judging someone's capabilities at work based on their gender is not fair. In this case, a reader, who is presumably an employer, asked for workplace advice from Alison Green, a manager who is renowned for having solutions to almost all of the work-related problems. They asked, "My new hire didn't tell me she's pregnant. Can I fire her?"

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Sora Shimazaki
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Sora Shimazaki

The elaborated version of the question states that after working the job for four weeks, the new employee told the employer that she was almost five months pregnant. She explained that the reason she said nothing during the interview was because she was told that if she disclosed her pregnancy, she wouldn't be hired. The employer felt like he had been lied to and asked Green, "Do I have any rights on this issue? Can I terminate her or legally do I have to keep her on?" Green answered this question on her website, www.askamanager.com, as well as on www.inc.com. She straightforwardly started her answer and said that the employer can't legally fire her for being pregnant, as that would violate the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act



 

She added, "And if you wouldn't have hired her if you'd known she was pregnant, that would have been illegal too." She said that if an entity had less than 15 employees, the law wouldn't apply. However, this can be exercised only if the employer lived in a state that didn't have additional employee protections beyond the federal law. She suggested that firing the pregnant employee in any way wouldn't work well for the employer. She said, "Either way, though, firing her would likely make you look like an awful person to the rest of your employees and I advise against it." She added that it won't be taken well by employees who would want to get pregnant, employees who had partners who were or planning to get pregnant and employees who empathized with pregnant people. Like she said, that's a lot of people.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Gustavo Fring
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Gustavo Fring

Elaborating on the employee's rights, Green said, "She (the employee) also had zero obligation, legally or ethically, to have disclosed her pregnancy to you (the employer) before you hired her." She also called out the employer by saying, "And your reaction now is exactly why other people told her not to." However, she also, in some capacity, empathized with the employer. She said that she understood how frustrating it could be for the employer to discover that a new employee they just spent time training is pregnant and will be on prolonged leave.

The employer would also need to find someone else to train and cover their duties until they return. Explaining why this happens, she says, "But the law exists to protect employees in exactly this situation. Accepting that is part of the deal when you employ a workforce made up of humans." All things said and done, such laws are important. They not only guarantee that a woman won't be left jobless after her pregnancy but also attempt to close the gender discrimination gap that exists in the workplace.

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