Today I’m talking about the tough issue of whether to reveal an early pregnancy during a job search.
I’m three months pregnant and looking for a job. It’s not yet obvious because I’ve kept in shape. I’m afraid if I say I’m pregnant, no one will hire me, and I really need the job.
Do I need to own up to being pregnant when I interview? If I’m offered the job, do I need to let the employer know at the time of the offer? What if I’m asked if I’m pregnant by an interviewer who notices I’m starting to get thick around the middle?
I’d rather work for at least a month and let them see that I’m a great employee and then tell them. I’m afraid, though, that they’ll feel I was unethical, and I feel bad about this.
Can you advise me?
You don’t need to mention your pregnancy during an interview. You’re also correct that some employers won’t hire pregnant applicants despite federal and state laws that make discrimination against pregnant women illegal. These employers simply cite other reasons for not hiring expectant moms.
Further, although it’s counterintuitive, you don’t need to answer truthfully to an illegal question asked by an interviewer, such as, “Are you pregnant?”
At the same time, you’re absolutely right that an employer may feel betrayed when they learn you’re pregnant just a month after hiring you and realize you hid this information during your interview. Anytime you begin an employment relationship hiding a fact most employers would want to know, you risk losing trust, a necessary ingredient in a healthy employer-employee relationship.
You have two ethical ways to face this challenge.
First, you can tell the truth. If you plan on working after you deliver your child, HR-savvy employers will still hire you if you present yourself well and are the most qualified candidate.
Second, apply for temporary jobs. Many employers hiring temporary employees actually prefer hiring applicants who don’t want a long-term job because they fear that if they hire those who seek long-term employment, those newly hired employees will continue their job search.
Alternatively, seek work through a temporary agency. Temporary agencies offer job seekers a valid way to earn money on a short-term basis. Then you can work as long as you’re able and restart as soon as you’re ready after childbirth. Also, you may find a great part-time temporary gig, allowing you to stay home part time after you deliver.
Finally, if you tell the truth and a friendly interview suddenly turns cold, visit your state’s Human Rights Commission, and ask them to help you out.
Have a question for Lynne? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject “SheKnows,” and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.
© 2016, Lynne Curry. Lynne is an executive coach and author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully, AMACOM. You can follow Lynne through her other posts on sheknows.com, via workplacecoachblog.com, bullywhisperer.com™ or @lynnecurry10 on Twitter.