The Time My Pregnancy Cost Me a JobMichelle Horton
After I wrote about the pregnancy discrimination issues that Jezebel raised about AOL’s TechCrunch blog (which, by the way, former TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington has since assured Babble wasn’t really an issue), I got to thinking about my own pregnancy discrimination story.
It wasn’t a dramatic tale of legal action — in fact, it happened quite conveniently and quietly for them. But there’s no doubt in my mind that the reason I lost that job was because I had confessed about my new pregnancy only the day before.
And even though there are legal protections for pregnant women, there are plenty of loopholes that employers can find — like in my case. What would you have done in my situation?
I’ve written numerous times about how I didn’t expect to get pregnant at 22 years old — mere weeks after graduating from college and in the midst of job hunting. There truly couldn’t have been a worse time to get pregnant (especially when you factor in that I had no health insurance). I had a few promising interviews scheduled, although it felt like my world was crumbling and I had no idea how to juggle the demands of an entry-level Manhattan job (I add in “Manhattan” because those employees are ruthlessly dedicated around the clock) with the demands of a pregnancy.
So after several interviews at a start-up beauty company (for which I’d be the marketing assistant in this small group of mind-blowingly successful men), they offered me the job — right after I found out I was pregnant. I turned it down. Then they offered me more money and better benefits, explaining how incredible this opportunity would be for me.
I had a really difficult decision to make. On the one hand, this was an incredible opportunity — especially to get in on the ground floor of something that promised to grow so large. I needed a job, I needed a salary, I needed benefits. But on the other hand, this would be a demanding job with a long commute, long hours and an office filled almost entirely with men. Would they understand the demands of pregnancy?
So in that last meeting, when they offered me the job one more time, I accepted — on one condition. I still don’t know why I did this, but at the time I felt it had to be done. I called all of the men into the conference room and told them that the reason I initially turned down the job was because I found out I’m pregnant and it freaked me out. But after the news settled in, I know that I’m fully capable of doing my job and being dedicated to the company.
They smiled, said some bologna about them looooving babies, and sent me on my way. The next day, news broke out that Freddie and Fannie went under — the words “recession” and “economic collapse” were splashed across the country — and it wasn’t long before I got a phone call. With the economic uncertainties, they decided not to fill the position right now, although they’d call if they decided to start up the company. And although I never heard from them again, the company has since gone on to be quite successful.
They went from basically begging me to take the position to lying about the company going under. At the time, how could I dispute that? And even if I could, would I really want to work for this group of men?
All in all — after much stress and tears and some more stress — I ended up working for a company that was so incredibly encouraging and accommodating of my pregnancy. And no, I didn’t tell them I was pregnant in the job interview — although it pained me to lie about it for those first couple of months. (If anyone from that job is reading this, know that I only lied because of this previous experience. I think you all rock, and I’m sorry for being dishonest.) So maybe losing that first job was the best thing that could have happened. But regardless — it’s still wrong.
Have you ever lost a job opportunity because of your pregnancy? How did you handle job hunting while pregnant?
Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images via Modern Mom
Me and My Shadow: For us, every day is Take Your Child to Work Day.