pregnant bartender, lunchtime meetings, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I’m worried about our pregnant bartender

I own and operate a busy nightclub, and one of my bartenders is six months pregnant. She was pregnant last year as well, but miscarried four and a half months in (this detail is relevant). I asked the bartender, let’s call her Trudy, a few weeks back how long she’d like to keep working, and she said she’d like to work right up to the due date. At the time, I said okay. It’s her decision, I thought, and I don’t think I’m allowed to pull her off of the schedule for being pregnant anyway.

Fast forward to last weekend. Busy Friday night and Trudy starts to feel like something is wrong. She’s upset and crying, so we send her home immediately and work the rest of the night short-staffed. We hear back the next day that she was extremely dehydrated and stressed out and she’d started having contractions. The baby is okay, thankfully.

I had assumed from jump that Trudy would take herself off of the schedule if and when her health or the baby’s health was in jeopardy, but she was gunning to work the next night and was looking to pick up extra shifts the following week (she told me she needs the extra money). The rest of the staff is worried, I’m worried, and I wouldn’t be able to bear it if anything were to happen during a shift. How do I approach this?

Federal law is really clear that you can’t compel an employee to take leave because she’s pregnant, as long as she’s able to perform her job, even if you think you’re acting in her best interest.

It sounds like you’re assuming that her issue on Friday night was caused by working, but that kind of thing can happen whether or not someone is working. There’s no way to know that work caused it … but even if you could know, it’s still her call to make.

Treat her like any other employee who had a temporary health situation crop up while at work: give her an appropriate amount of time to handle it (which you did), and then trust her to manage her own health and trust that she’ll let you know if she deems it in her own best interest to stop working. She’s the only one who should make that call.

If there starts to be a pattern of her needing to leave mid-shift, you can of course address that — as long as you handle it the same way you’d handle it for any other employee with a temporary disability (not that pregnancy is a disability, but that’s what the law says).

2. Weekly meetings scheduled during lunch

I work at a small medical practice consisting of about 15 employees. We work from 8-5 with one-hour unpaid lunch. We’re all salary and this is a fairly new practice. Our employer has decided to call weekly lunch meetings and these usually take up our entire hour break. We’re told we can bring our lunches to the meeting but they never actually provide lunch for us.

I’m one who never brings lunch to work because I enjoy getting out of the office everyday. My position is a stressful and often a very demanding one. I look forward to this time to decompress, get a breath of fresh air and step away from the phone. I often run errands or go home to walk my dogs (I blessed I live five minutes from work)

Am I wrong to consider this hour of unpaid time as “my time”? I feel that my employer is wrong to expect us to spend nine hours at work and only pay us for eight. If this was a once a month thing I wouldn’t mind as much but weekly seems like an “abuse of power.” I’ve heard other coworkers mumble under their breath and outright complain when no one from management is around but no one will speak up.

Well, the first issue here is whether you’re exempt or non-exempt. At least some of you are almost certainly non-exempt and thus must be paid for all of the work that you do, including these weekly lunch meetings, and would need to be paid at time and a half for that hour if it puts you over 40 hours that week, which it sounds like it would. (Keep in mind that whether you’re exempt or non-exempt isn’t up to your employer; it’s a government classification that depends on your job duties. And there are almost certainly nonexempt employees working in a medical practice, if you have front desk staff.)

But if you’re exempt, then you’re not being paid hourly; you’re being paid for the job. In that case, I’d stop looking at your normal lunch hour as unpaid, because that doesn’t really work in an exempt framework. Rather, you have set hours of 8-5 and it’s okay to take a one-hour lunch break within that time — but you’re salaried, so it’s not about whether a specific hour or numbers of hours are paid or unpaid. That’s part of the deal with being exempt.

All that aside, if you and your coworkers hate these lunch meetings, speak up. Lunch meetings once a week aren’t particularly outrageous, and they don’t really qualify as an abuse of power (unless non-exempt staff aren’t being paid for them, which would be illegal). But if you all feel strongly that you don’t want them, speak up and say so. For example: “Our jobs are stressful and we rely on lunchtime to be able to decompress and come back to work refreshed. Can we schedule these at a time that isn’t lunch?” That’s perfectly reasonable and a decent manager would want to hear it, and if several of you say it, it will probably carry some weight.

But if no one is willing to say something, then yes, it will probably continue because your management can’t read your minds.

3. Turning down a freelance client whose work I’m uncomfortable with

I’m a full-time freelance copy editor, specializing in manuscripts for independent/self-publishing writers. A couple months back, I had a client who needed help with the copy for his Kickstarter page; he was hoping to fund a book he wants to write and publish about academic corruption.

I edited the content, which included a sample from the book he wants to publish; while doing so, I noticed that in the book he named universities and individuals that he claimed were involved in unethical behavior. I finished that project (I have no idea if his Kickstarter was at all successful), and now he’s contacted me again, wondering if I will edit a letter about academic corruption that he’s sending to donors of a school; he would also like me to edit the book he wants to publish.

The fact that he’s naming names in his accusations of academic corruption gives me pause. If someone were to sue him, could I also be named in the suit even though all I did was make sure his copy was grammatical and met Chicago Manual of Style standards? I just don’t feel comfortable editing the letter or the book. I would like to pass on editing anything more for him but I don’t want to make him mad enough to trash me and my services (word-of-mouth reputation is pretty important, especially as I’m still in the early phase of this career).

I doubt you could be held responsible, but note that I’m not a lawyer and should not be trusted on that question. Regardless, though, a good go-to line for turning down freelance work is this: “My schedule is fully booked up right now so I’m not taking on any new work. I’m sorry I’m not able to help, and I wish you all the best with it!”

The potential downside of this line is if you think he’ll hear from others that you are taking on new work, or if you don’t want him to discourage others from contacting you with new projects. In that case, I might be slightly vaguer: “Because of my schedule right now, I don’t think I could do it justice.” That still comes with those same potential downsides, but it’s less of a concrete statement that no one else with work should contact you.

Another alternative is just to be honest about your reason: “I admire what you’re doing, but I feel like it might be a risk for me to take it on at this early point in my career. I hope you understand.”

But really, I’d just go with “too busy.”

4. Was the amount of vacation in my offer letter incorrect?

Thanks to your advice I got a great job offer and accepted it. Way better than my old job, and I’m really happy. I noticed that the amount of vacation (and sick time) I earn is different than my offer letter. I mentioned this to my partner and he says that is standard, that when they say 10 days, they mean 10 days if you start Jan 1. I started mid-February and it’s not a deal breaker for me, but I am a little disappointed. Is my partner right that this is standard? The offer letter said “X days per year.”

Yes, that’s very standard. Usually vacation time is accrued with each pay period rather than front-loaded; in other words, if you get 10 days a year, you’ll earn .83 days per month (.83 x 12 months = 10). So if you start on January 1, you’ll accrue 10 days over the course of the year. But if you start on June 1, you’ll only accrue six days. And even with employers that front-load it and give it all to you at the start, they still usually (although not always) prorate it if you start partway through the year.

Think of it this way: If your offer letter lists a salary of $50,000, you’re not going to get the full $50,000 this year if you start in February — it’s divided by the number of pay periods and paid out that way. It’s typical to prorate time off in the same way.

5. Do employers look at old applications you submitted in the past?

I am currently on the job market. I am wondering whether employers retain all resumes you submit. I would like to remove one negative job experience (but my first leadership position) and only use it in cases wherein I am applying for leadership positions. I have realized through trial and error that it is better to leave off the experience where I just lasted three months due to a toxic work environment. Do employers consider all resumes you have submitted in the past?

It’s possible, but not super likely. I’ve on occasion looked back at someone’s previous application to get a sense of what’s changed since I last talked to them, but I had a specific reason for doing it. In general, it’s not going to be something that happens as a matter of course.

{ 282 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    OP3 – This doesn’t make any sense to me. First off, you’ve already edited part of the book, so if some crazy person is going to try and find a lawyer looking to get disbarred, you’re already connected.

    Secondly, why do you have this fear? Do you think Kickstarter is going to be named for hosting the page? Do you think AaM would be named for giving you advice? Do you think I’m going to be named for posting a comment about your letter and her advice?

    Look, it’s your business and you can do what you want, but as you said yourself, you’re only checking for grammar and style, not content. You haven’t made any statements or claims, so why do you believe this is even a concern?

    1. MK*

      Having someone sue you is always a concern, even if it ultimately fails. I don’t think the OP would be sued for the sample or the letter, but in those her name probably appears nowhere. In a book though, the contributors are listed inside the jacket, so her name would be known as someone who worked on the book to anyone who reads it. That being said, I don’t actually think a copy editor would even be sued for the content of the book; usually they sue the writer and the publisher, possibly even the editor.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        I’m an editor, and in a professional group I belong to, another editor reported that it happened to her, and she couldn’t afford to fight it so had to settle. Litigation is bothersome whether it has a chance or not.
        OP, check EAE and EAE backroom on Facebook, and the mailing list C-EL. You will get tonnes of advice on there.

        1. hbc*

          I’m not doubting you, but I’m curious what kind of money actually had to be spent fighting it. I’m asking because we had a nuisance lawsuit from a former employee, and while we involved the lawyers because we’d never been through the process, it became clear that we could have easily fought it without any knowledge of the law.

          So my (probably naive) view is that of course the LW could get sued in this case, just like she could be sued because someone didn’t like some random book she edited about the history of the Portuguese postal service, but that if she showed up in court with emails showing her responsibility was for grammar alone, all she’d be out is half a day of work and parking fees at the court house.

          1. Been there*

            I would disagree with this. First off, the lawsuit may not happen in your state. And when you arrive in Sioux City to find that the other person’s lawyer plays golf with the judge, as happened to us on a nuisance lawsuit, you realize it’s a game and the game is rigged. You negotiate a $10k settlement and go home wiser.

            The OP is asking whether she could get sued for editing a possibly defamatory book. In this US you can be sued for anything.

            1. JD*

              +1 – local suits are one thing, and even then, if you are in anything other than small claims/conciliation court – hire a lawyer. It might have seemed simple in hindsight, but you also don’t know how many rabbit holes you avoided by having a trained professional.

          2. Cambridge Comma*

            That’s why I said ‘another member reported’. I have less than no idea whether it’s true at all, or whether she really had no alternative to paying up.

        2. OP3*

          Thank you for the mention of EAE Backroom. I’ve joined, and I can tell this is going to be a wonderful resource. It’s much appreciated!

      2. Mike C.*

        Like being hit with a meteor is always a concern? I mean sure, it can happen but I’m going to look left and right while crossing the street rather than looking up.

        1. peanut butter kisses*

          But the bottom lines remains that the op isn’t comfortable with the work and needs a professional way to say no thanks without burning any bridges.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            I really want to know why the Op is so uncomfortable. It’s far more likely the author would be sued for libel or slander or whichever one of those applies and I doubt the author would take such a huge risk by blatantly lying. I’m thinking the Op knows some people at the university the author names or something like that.

            1. Anna*

              Right. When lawsuits come up for libel, it’s the publisher and author who are sued, not the editor. The editor is a technical person whose job it is to make sure grammar, punctuation, and word flow is correct. It’s up to the publisher and author to determine truth. Anyone can be named in a lawsuit, but that’s the case no matter what. I tend to think the OP is being a little bit paranoid and anyway, as Mike C. pointed out, their name is already attached so it’s too late.

              1. JB (not in Houston)*

                But you’re assuming the person suing would be rationale. As a lawyer, I can’t tell you how many lawsuits I’ve dealt with where people who had been sued had nothing to do with what the plaintiff was complaining about. Those people still had to hire lawyers to deal with it.

                Just because the OP already had her name mentioned once in a previous project, but this is a different project. Just because there was no litigious person named in the first project doesn’t mean there would be in this one.

                In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the OP’s fears are likely to materialize or are reasonable. What matters is how she feels about the risk. None of us need to argue with her about how she feels about the project or the risk. It’s not our place. It’s not like she’s turning him down for being the “wrong” religious or ethnicity. So let’s not argue with about whether her fear is reasonable.

            2. OP3*

              Nope, I don’t know anyone at the university or any of the people involved. I feel uncomfortable because the book seems like a vendetta against a colleague, and that’s not something I want to be a part of.

              1. Rana*

                Honestly, that’s reason enough. That would get my “I don’t think I’m the right editor for this job” boilerplate response.

              2. Paper*

                Another editor (commissioning rather than copy) here – while I think the likelihood of the copy editor being sued is negligible (though our copy editors do flag problematic stuff to us internally – I’ve an editor query on my desk saying ‘not sure if this is obscene, libellous or just in really bad taste?’ I work on science books!), there’s a non-negligible risk of a bad rep with the named parties in the book. Which is unfair but happens, particularly if this is a dysfunctional department. If that’s also a worry for you, I’d say you’re too busy for this book.

    2. Jen*

      Could OP write in a statement of (non) liability into the contract? Or at least a limitation? I’d recommend a quick consult with a lawyer first but seems like it’d be straightforward of you want the work.

      1. MK*

        She could, but, even if it is legally binding, it will only be so between the parties, her and her client; if anyone else wants to sue her, it will be irrelevant.

      2. Snowglobe*

        A contract with one party (the author) can’t waive away liability to another party (potentially the named individuals in the book).

          1. Dorothy Lawyer*

            This is what I was thinking. This should be in every single contract an editor signs.

      3. rando*

        Are you asking about an indemnity clause? The parties cannot waive a third party’s ability to sue them, but one party (the author) can agree to defend and pay any losses arising out of the book/contract with the other (LW).

        1. Artemesia*

          And bankruptcy by the party agreeing to indemnify will wipe out that liability and put it back on the person sued. In a divorce for example, the decree may make the husband responsible for the mortgage or credit card debt, but if he bankrupts the wife is legally responsible anyway to pay the debt. Or if he just refuses to pay it and makes himself hard to find, she is responsible to pay it and can be sued and will lose.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But it doesn’t sound like the OP particularly wants the work. Why go through the trouble for work she’s not particularly compelled to take on?

        1. OP3*

          Yes, it’s work that I don’t especially want to do (particularly as the author’s project feels like a vendetta against a former colleague) and I don’t need it financially right now.

          1. Terra*

            It may be something else to bring up when you turn them down though depending on your preference, that due to the content you’d need a lawyer to write/read your contract before starting work to make sure there’s no potential for a lawsuit which would mean you’d have to charge them more and it would take you longer and really it’s better if they find someone else so sorry. But again, that’s a preference thing if you’d rather have a reason that’s not just “I’m too busy.”

    3. INTP*

      I think that there is risk beyond the risk of a lawsuit that the OP is probably considering, too. This book could be a daring work of investigative journalism, or it could be the libelous rantings of a highly paranoid person. The OP’s name would presumably be credited somewhere for the book, so if it’s the latter, it isn’t exactly good for the OP’s career if future employers google her name and find that, both to be associated with an unprofessional work and to be associated with an unethical work if the people named are not guilty.

  2. Noah*

    #2 – Unless you want to come in early or stay late be careful on how much you push back on lunch meetings. Medical offices are unlikely to reduce patient scheduling to allow time for a meeting. Also, generally medical assistants and front office staff will be non-exempt and must be paid for all time worked.

    1. AnotherFed*

      +1. There probably isn’t going to be any one time that everyone likes, and people are more likely to have other obligations or transportation issues that make staying late or arriving early harder on them.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      True. I feel for OP — I HATE lunch meetings, and I hate them even more if lunch is not provided, but given that it’s a medical office, what’s the alternative when you want to have an all-staff meeting? Probably would have to be after hours, which I’m guessing nobody would like any better than lunchtime.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Our medical office’s front desk staff meeting is first thing in the morning on Fridays – they just roll the phones over from night mode a half an hour later (at 9:00 instead of 8:30).

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Yes, I’ve seen this too, in several different medical offices. The office I currently go to even has it as part of their pre-recorded outgoing message noting that the office opens an hour later one day a week due to staff meetings. I actually thought this was more common than requiring lunch meetings or meetings before or after regular working hours, but I guess that’s not the case!

    3. Erin*

      Ooooh this is a good point. Something similar happened at a friend of mine’s medical office. I believe what happened is: She pointed out to them that by not allowing for the allotted break times they are actually breaking the law. So they adjusted the break times, and now everyone has to work longer hours, and the staff hates my friend for bringing this up. :/

      That being said. It is odd that you’re not being paid for this time. When you’re clearly working. During that time. Especially if there are nonexempt employees.

      If it were me, I would argue that you should be paid for that time (I would not to try to move the time, or stop these meetings altogether). Keep the meetings, but get paid. I’d talk to your coworkers and gauge what they’re thinking, so you can approach management as a unit.

      1. JessaB*

        What I do not get is the not bringing in food or having it in. My sister is a CRNP in an office (NB this is not true in hospitals of course, but I think OP works in an office.) Nearly every day some drug rep is bringing in food. If they don’t the office does. I swear she never pays for or brings lunch. So whether or not the OP needs downtime is secondary to my Whiskey Foxtrot Tango a medical office doesn’t feed people? I dunno if you can argue that once a week having to have a meeting is too hard on people (with advance notice for people to bring lunch?,) but I’d for sure argue, wait, what, you’re not feeding us?

        1. Erin*

          Agreed, it’s really poor morale that they don’t offer lunch. Free food would probably do wonders for this situation.

        2. Rachael*

          There have been many a survey that shows that staff is more likely to do something usually deemed annoying if the company provides food.

          Provide food and people will look forward to the meetings.

  3. ancolie*

    LW 1 — I’m 100% sure you truly mean well and your heart is in the right place, but please respect Trudy’s personal autonomy. Being pregnant doesn’t suddenly make one’s judgment and critical thinking skills disappear, but pregnant women are often infantilized as though that were the case (by men and women alike).

    1. Engineer Girl*

      What you said is true. What is also true is that pregnancy is expensive. A fear of not having enough money may be pushing Trudy to earn more while she can. The fear (not the pregnancy) could be causing her to short circuit her logic centers or even minimize the risks of the pregnancy.

      1. Jen*

        If possible, OP 1 could consider any alternatives to standing behind a bar- could Trudy do anything else in the restaurant to earn money other than tend bar? Assume no, but just in case…

        1. Snowglobe*

          Other jobs probably aren’t going to generate as much income (tips) as she would get as a bartender. I think LW would be in violation of federal law if he moved an employee to a lower paying job because of her pregnancy.

            1. CMT*

              When the law is looking at whether one job is lower paying than another, does it take tips into account? Or just what the employer is paying?

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        The fear (not the pregnancy) could be causing her to short circuit her logic centers or even minimize the risks of the pregnancy.

        That’s still calling into question her judgment and critical thinking regarding her own bodily autonomy. Don’t do that. Instead of talking about fear “short-circuiting her logic center” (is she a computer?) try looking at it this way: Trudy is setting her levels of acceptable risk and weighing the stress & strain she’s experiencing now versus the longer-term benefit of having more money the bank — which, given how expensive pregnancy, childbirth, and early childcare are, is a pretty major benefit. Trudy’s risk assessment decisions may not be the same decisions the OP would make, but unless it rises to the level where Trudy is unable to safely perform her job, it’s not the OP’s call.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          I would certainly question the logic that asked for increased work just after they had to leave work for a medical issue partly due to the work. At a minimum I’d want to know that they had stabilized at the current level of work before giving them more.
          You’re looking at it only in probabilities. True risk assessment measures probabilities Vs consequences. When there are high consequences you always mitigate their risk. There is alao another life involved. It is the highest of consequences.
          It’s not wrong to sit down with an employee when you think that they are not thinking a work problem all the way through. This problem does involve the work environment so it isn’t totally up to Trudy to assess and solve by herself.

          1. Graciosa*

            Yes, actually in this case it would be wrong to sit Trudy down to explain that she is not thinking this through properly because of the risk to her child.

            The pregnancy is supposed to be treated like any other disability. You don’t sit down any other employee to tell them that you, as a manager, think they need to reconsider their treatment decisions. It is none of your business.

            The only part that seems to be the manager’s business is the scheduling. I’m not sure how she would handle it if there was a disability related risk that someone might not be able to finish a shift (assign an on-call backup?) but that is how it should be handled.

            Whenever an employee tells me about anything medical, I listen and look supportive, but I don’t comment on treatment decisions, and my questions tend to be limited to, “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”

            1. Engineer Girl*

              I’m not questioning any treatment decisions. But I’m not increasing the workload until they demonstrate stability in the current work load. Even ADA requires a stable medical condition for accommodation. A diabetic that passed out while on shift would receive the same treatment. No,you don’t get extra hours until you can make it through a shift. How can we do that?

              1. Ineloquent*

                The trouble is there are actually a variety of sate laws that protect pregnant women from being denied raises, promotions, increases in responsibility, etc., for the sole reason that they are pregnant. It can also be consider discrimination based on sex at a federal level. We really don’t want anyone to assume we’re not capable of doing our jobs and doing them well just because we’re incubating another human. It leads to institutional inadvertent gender discrimination, because women are not given the same growth opportunities, because well meaning folks think it may be bad for the baby.

              2. Koko*

                As Alison points out, though, we don’t know that her dehydration and stress wouldn’t have happened at home, too.

                If it happened more than once I would pause just because of the business implications of being short-staffed if it becomes a regular thing, but going home sick once doesn’t make me think she’s suddenly incapable of working a shift like she has been doing every other night up to that point.

              3. Observer*

                How we do that is make sure that the person has access to food, in the case of the diabetic, and water in the case of the woman who got dehydrated.

          2. Van Wilder*

            It’s not your job to question her logic. She was dehydrated. She got hydrated. She knows best whether she’s able to work or not.

            1. Terra*

              But ignoring the baby entirely. You have someone who gets dehydrated and has to leave work which leaves you short staffed which becomes a problem for the business. Why would you then give that employee more hours when they’ve already shown that there’s a potential for them to cause a staffing issue? I think there’s an argument to be made that Trudy is being somewhat unreasonable and that OP isn’t obliged to give her more shifts just because she’s pregnant if she wouldn’t it another situation.

              1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

                I don’t think one incident of needing to leave work early is indicative of a problem going forward.

              2. Observer*

                Well, legally it’s certainly not the OP’s place to worry bout the baby. Beyond that, you have no way to know that Trudy is “ignoring the baby.” She knows what she needs for herself and her baby far better than anyone else. And ONE incident doesn’t indicate a pattern.

                Of course, it the OP were really just concerned for Trudy, she could make sure that there is always water easily accessible so that Trudy could stay hydrated even while on the job.

          3. HRChick*

            Unless you are her doctor, why would you feel free to tell her what she can and can’t handle during her pregnancy?

            If she needed to get out of work, her doctor would have told her so. If she chose not to listen to her doctor, it is STILL not her boss’s job to tell her what she needs to do.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              She had to leave mid shift. That’s a demonstrated problem. It’s not unreasonable to talk with your employee to solve a demonstrated problem. It’s not a matter of could happen. It has happened.

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                But if it’s just something that happened once, it’s no different to eg, me not drinking enough water and getting a migraine. Once ≠ big problem, IMO

              2. Elizabeth West*

                It happened ONCE. If it’s a continuing problem, then you talk to her about it–but from the standpoint of “We need you here to finish your shift,” same as if she were a dude who bailed in the middle of his for a migraine. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is. She’s responsible for making sure she’s at work on time and stays throughout her shift, and also for calling in or whatever if she cannot.

                Besides, we don’t know that the work itself made her ill–you don’t get dehydrated all of a sudden. She probably hadn’t been drinking enough fluids at home, either.

                1. Analyst*

                  +1. As her boss, what you CAN do is make sure she has access to and freedom to drink water/juice as often as she needs. Sometimes in service jobs there’s a “don’t consume anything in front of customers” rule, which I get, but nobody reasonable should bat an eye at a pregnant woman drinking water while working.

                2. Crystal Vu*

                  And make sure she gets to use the bathroom as often as she needs to. Maybe that’s why she’s dehydrating; she can’t get through a two-hour block without needing the bathroom if she drinks as much water as she really needs to.

              3. Stellar*

                A single incident is also not a demonstration of an ongoing issue. This is exactly the type of thinking the ADA is protecting people from. Trudy’s health is between her and her doctor. For all we or the OP know, she could be at risk of miscarriage while on bedrest.

              4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                If you treat every other employee who needs to leave mid-shift for a temporary health reason that way, that would be legal. But most people wouldn’t, which brings us back to illegal.

          4. BuildMeUp*

            You’re assuming that the medical issue was due to work, but we don’t know that’s the case. Pregnancy is complicated. Sure, maybe she was on her feet too long or too busy. But it’s equally possible that she would have had the same issue if she had been sitting on the couch at home.

            Either way, it’s really not the manager’s place to tell the employee how to handle her pregnancy.

          5. A Non E. Mouse*

            My last pregnancy was rough on me. Really, really rough, and I have a sit-on-butt kinda job even.

            Towards the end, when my doctor started talking about bed rest, I pushed back hard. Why? The kid in my belly was not my only concern. The two I already had, the roof over my head, the vehicle I had to gas up to get to and from appointments, the job that paid for our health insurance….all that mattered. I’d been saving sick days for years to allow the necessary income during maternity leave, and bed rest would blow through them before the baby was even born.

            I also pushed back on the thrice-weekly growth scans during this time. Same as above – it literally cost me actual copay money, every time, PLUS was eating into the amount of time I would be paid while out on maternity leave, and I also had to burn sick or vacation time to go.

            Literal, actual dollars. Was I worried about the kid in my belly? Absolutely. Terrified, even. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t weigh the benefits and risks *myself* and make a decision. I talked through with the doctor why I was “resistant” to the medical advice, and we were able to get to a place (less-frequent scans done on days of the week that impacted my schedule less while allowing for adequate monitoring, changes to my routine that allowed for more feet-up kind of rest, dietary changes, monitoring and reporting of my BP daily, etc.).

            I eventually acquiesced to bed rest – but saved myself about 2 weeks pay on the back end. On the surface, even to my doctor until we were able to talk it out – it probably seemed I just “didn’t understand the risks”. I DID understand the risks – I just came to a different conclusion about what steps I needed to take to mitigate them.

            Is that the same series of decisions others would have made? Maybe, maybe not. But they are not their decisions to make. If my employer had insisted I go on bed rest during that time, instead of me and my medical team making that decision together, it would have been a gross violation.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Yes to all of this. I love the reminder (to the world) that the unborn baby is not the only important consideration. She may not even be the most important consideration and that’s okay. The adult employee gets to make that call, even if it’s a call that others wouldn’t make.

            2. Elder Dog*

              Your doctor didn’t have all the information and wasn’t qualified to make this decision before she talked to you. That happens a lot. The only person fully qualified to make decisions about your treatment, much less your life, is you. A doctor can advise, a boss can ask if there’s anything she can do that might help, but you are the only person who can make decisions about your life, including your health and that of any children, pre or post-natal.

        2. Anxa*

          Yes to this.

          So often people discount the danger and health risk of poverty. It’s not unreasonable for a pregnant person to want to accept the risks of working too hard or too deep into a pregnancy over the risk of homelessness or an inability to feed the child.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Why are we assuming she’s poor. I know of bartenders that make damn good money. Just because she mentioned needing the money to the Op doesn’t mean she’s poor. I couldn’t afford for my pay to be cut either. And she’s probably just saving up for all the baby gear and being off on disability, which is only like a little over half your normal pay.

            1. Anxa*

              I’m not assuming that she makes a low income. I’m not assuming that she doesn’t have a nice standard of living. I did assume that she didn’t have access to things like paid-time off, which doesn’t make you cash poor but can still affect your wealth and financial health.

              That said, I’m referring less about this specific bartender and more about some general trends regarding pregnant workers. Often pregnant people are pressured to do everything possible to alleviate any immediate health risks to the baby or themselves from people who are overlooking that not being able to provide food and shelter is also risky. And those risks can range from an immediate crisis that affects infant mortality, to negative feelings around motherhood as it affects your career, to fewer extracurricular activities in the budget later. This is not to say a worker can’t just want to work throughout the pregnancy because they want to, but rather that a lot of pregnant people are weighing the pros of cons of the options pretty seriously and should be trusted with those decisions.

              I also did assume that she would have access to STD since she’d been there last year, but that of course isn’t a given.

      3. One of the Sarahs*

        Yes, this – it won’t make Trudy’s life easier to suddenly be sacked “for her own good”

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          (Sorry, this-ing the “pregnancy is expensive”, not that she’s short-circuiting her logic centres… For all we know, she’s made the most logical, objective decision, and has chosen being able to eat, and pay her medical bills, as that’s ultimately better for her unborn child than making herself unemployed)

      4. Koko*

        But that’s Trudy’s mistake to make. The manager is not responsible for verifying and managing her healthcare decisions. If she wants to smoke a pack a day, enjoys eating junk food, is an avid bungee jumper, or wants to work while in the late stages of a pregnancy, no matter how unhealthy/risky those activities might be, it’s a gross overstepping of boundaries for the manager to step in and tell her how she needs to take care of herself.

        1. myswtghst*

          Exactly! And unless the manager is also giving this kind of “concerned advice” to all of their employees engaging in risky behaviors, it is very clearly treating a pregnant employee differently, which has been pointed out is not okay.

    2. J.B.*

      I think there is a place to tell Trudy that you are concerned, and ask if there is anything that would make her shifts easier. Like does she need more chances to sit down while still being able to serve customers. Should you send over help for a few minutes each hour so that she can drink water and run to the bathroom? That kind of thing.

      1. Mrs. Psmith*

        Being six months pregnant myself: this, this, this. There are some days you just get so busy that you forget to drink enough. Or sit down. Or a million other things you are supposed to do when you are pregnant.

        If you are OK with it, make sure Trudy knows she can take a break, drink water, put her feet up, go to the bathroom, etc. whenever she needs it. To me, those are perfectly reasonable accommodations to offer to a pregnant woman without coming across like you know what’s best for her or are trying to dictate how she handle her own body.

      2. JessaB*

        I would however question if all the bartenders/waitstaff had access to enough hydration in the first place. Bars get crazy busy and the more crowded they are the hotter they get, ALL the bartenders need to be able to have a glass of water sometimes, pregnant or not. Obviously they should be somewhat discreet about it.

        1. myswtghst*

          Not a bad point – for the OP, maybe consider reminding all of your staff that they can keep a water bottle behind the bar (or whatever is appropriate) to ensure they all stay hydrated, and ensuring you have a decent strategy for making sure everyone can take bathroom breaks so they don’t skip water for that reason.

      3. myswtghst*

        Exactly this. It’s not about making decisions for Trudy (or insinuating that you know better than her about her own life/body), it’s about making sure Trudy knows she is supported and that you will be open to things that would make her shifts easier. Ask her what you can do to help (within reason), then be sure you’re really listening to what she has to say.

    3. Van Wilder*

      Agreed. I’m 3 months pregnant and people in my office make jokes like I can’t open doors for myself and that tea’s decaf right? I know it’s good-natured joking but there’s a subcurrent in our culture of people thinking they need to look out for pregnant women because they can’t take care of themselves.

      This may not be applicable in hospitality but I’m also dealing with trying to get a new client assigned. People assume I want to take a step back just because I’m pregnant. This is how women end up getting held back from promotions.

    4. Ineloquent*

      Dear heavens yes. I swear, I’m super annoyed by this right now (having just gotten out of a conversation wherein both my birthing preferences were criticized and I was told I’m incredibly fat). Being pregnant is hard and expensive and makes you more emotionally fragile, not less, folks. Don’t assume we’re delicate flowers – it gets old fast.

        1. Ineloquent*

          Thanks. I realize it was said in the spirit of bonding, but man, people should know better. :(

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            I once heard someone (not someone I work with) come back with, “Well, in six months I won’t be fat any longer, but you will still be an ass.” I wasn’t part of the conversation, but I immediately started laughing.

    5. Rachael*

      When I was pregnant I was lifting a box at work (20-30 lbs…not very heavy) and a guy came over, gave me a disapproving look, and scolded me. He may have thought he was in the right, but when did my pregnancy become “the world’s pregnancy” and have everyone thinking that they are allowed to be in charge of what I decide to do with my body? I was so mad that someone would feel it was their place to put themselves in a position of authority merely because I was pregnant.

      1. Rana*

        Plus, on a practical level, no one ever stops to think that a lot of pregnant women are doing things like taking care of another child… who sometimes needs to be carried… and guess what? Toddlers aren’t generally all that light. Nor bags of groceries.

  4. Dan*


    “How do I approach this?” Offer her paid time off. I’m assuming that you don’t offer any vacation or sick time or whatever else is standard in the white collar world. I’ve worked in hospitality and understand that vacation, sick time, or PTO is not the norm in the industry. However, when one asks, “I don’t want my employees to come to work because they need the money, what do I do?” The answer is, “pay them for not coming to work.” In the rest of the working world, the standard is 1 week of “sick” time plus 2 weeks vacation.

    So them’s yer choices. “Allow” your employees to come to work when you’d rather they not, or pay them to stay home. Pick one. Sorry to be blunt, but as one who has made the transition from “working stiff” to “white collar”, that’s the way them marbles roll.

    1. LisaLee*

      Yeah, it’s nice to say “Trudy shouldn’t be working so much” but Trudy also presumably has to have money to feed herself and her future child. She probably doesn’t have the luxury of just not working for months.

      1. Anna the Accounting Grad*

        Exactly. Sure, you could argue that working would put her and her child at unnecessary risk — but you could argue the same thing about the financial consequence of not working.

        1. Murphy*

          In fact, more so, I’d argue. Poverty is a much more dangerous “condition” than pregnancy.

    2. Raine*

      That option probably won’t appeal much to this (or many) bartenders, whose base wage is likely $2.13 per hour before tips. Even if the employer offered paid vacation here, the most the bartender would probably receive while not making tips is the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

      1. Dan*

        You and I both know that I’m not talking about paying this person $2.13/hr to stay home. Something like her average hourly reported tips would be more appropriate. If she underreported cash tips, well, that’s where I’d say it’s on her.

        1. Raine*

          In what world? The max would be minimum wage. Not even white collar jobs would pay you more to take leave than what they ever pay you. Sorry. I don’t agree.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            There’s been talk in the EU about changing legislation to make over time and shift premiums (such as for working Sunday) a part of Paid holiday so people get their typical wages paid not just the minimum.

            When I was working fast food my hours and pay would differ from week to week but my paid holiday was an average of the sat 12 weeks.

            Danadvocating for proper PTO that provides enough money to actually be taken, doesn’t seem crazy to me.

          2. AW*

            I agree that if the US suddenly passed legislation requiring all employees to offer PTO, but no additional rules on how to pay out PTO for tipped employees, then this is what would happen.

            But Dan is talking about what the OP ought to do.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              I assume they’d just calculate an average like they do for disability or unemployment. These days the government taxes restaurant workers on 10% of their sales they enter in the computer during their shift and that’s what goes on your paystubs and how they figure what you’ll get paid while off work. We all know they really make more like 20% but that’s the perk of the non reported portion of your earnings. You can’t have it both ways. You can report more so in that circumstance you get paid more , but most people choose to “pocket” the tipped income over the amount being reported.

              1. AW*

                We all know they really make more like 20%

                Actually, I don’t. I never worked a job that got tips. But Dan’s comment is still about what the OP should if he doesn’t want her coming in to work, not what the OP is legally required to do or how it’d most likely be done.

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  I was just answering what people were asking about how restaurants would do it if they start paying for time off if the employees normally make minimum.

          3. neverjaunty*

            The max is whatever the employer wants it to be. There’s no law that says an employer CAN’T compensate for more than minimum wage.

          4. Sonya*

            Oh yes they can and do.

            There’s a cool thing called leave loading here in the merry old land of Oz. You get your normal pay plus 17.5% of your usual pay on top of that when you are on annual leave. Not everyone gets it, but a lot of people do. I wouldn’t think we’re the only country that has it.

            Source: Am white-collar Australian permanent employee, can confirm.

        2. Tamsin*

          I’ve never heard of any employer paying a percentage of commissions a person might have earned on paid vacation or whatever the white-collar equivalent would be to tips above a base wage.

          1. Ashley*

            When I worked in commissions, I was paid my average hourly rate for vacation time (my draw was like $8 an hour, but with commissions it averaged about $22 an hour). This is very common.

            And for servers it would have to be minimum wage at least, and since servers make about $3 an hour, that would definitely be a percentage of tips, though not much.

            1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

              It’s closer to $2/hour at the low end of the scale, unless you’re especially valued or have been there awhile & the company can afford to pay you more. The most I was ever paid as a server was $4.19/hour; crazy how much that extra $2/hour fluffed up my paycheck.

          2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            Indeed I am a commissioned worker and my vacation pay is calculated on my average hourly wage including commissions (I believe over the previous 1 or 2 months or so). My boss got in trouble with the labour board for not doing so and owed us all back pay and paid a fine.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      I think that’s a key point. It’s very nice to feel worried about Trudy, but expecting her to go without pay would be punishing her to make yourself feel better. She’s got three months of normal pregnancy left – I doubt she can afford no or reduced wages for that period

      What you can do – make sure she gets appropriate breaks where she can drink water (and go to the bathroom – pregnancy bladders are extra small and need to be emptied frequently). If it’s possible to let her do some of the work sitting down, give that as an option.

      As an aside – my understanding is that the classic bed rest for worrisome pregnancy advice is changing somewhat, as bed-rest vs normal activity turns out to not actually have much effect on the success of the pregnancy. Particularly compared with the long-term effects of being unemployed for an extended period.

      1. Glasskey*

        Shoot, I was on bedrest for 7 weeks with baby #2-where was that info when I needed it?! Definitely, definitely lots of water-easy to get dehydrated when you’re talking to customers and running around and that’ll bring on contractions, oh yes! She may need some reminders, esp. with the hot weather coming on.

      2. Juli G.*

        Yep. OP, make sure your current practices give her a supportive environment. For example, sometimes bars/restaurants/clubs don’t want the front of house to have drinks visible to customers. If you have that policy, it’s a great time to
        change it.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Our state health codes require servers to not eat or drink where food is being prepared or served. So in some cases, those current practices might be based on the law, and not so easy to change.

          I do agree that making it easier for her to take a quick break to get something to drink is an excellent idea.

    4. Juli G.*

      I get what you’re saying but in the rest of the working world, most women don’t get paid time off from the sixth month of pregnancy either. Even outside the US, most countries aren’t putting women on maternity leave 3 months before the baby comes in a healthy pregnancy.

      OP would do well to heed your advice around month 9 but otherwise, should be open to reasonable accommodations.

      1. LBK*

        I agree that it’s not common, but it’s the most obvious answer to the OP’s worrying if she really wants to do something about it. I think if anything, it puts in perspective that the OP just needs to lay off and let Trudy worry about her own baby, since such early maternity leave is likely out of the question.

      2. Murphy*

        No, but in many white collar jobs you can use sick-time or short-term disability if you have to be taken off work for pregnancy-related reasons. I was pulled from my desk job at 31 weeks because I was in severe pain with my pregnancy. My job continued to pay for 100% of my salary for that time and then I went on maternity leave after the baby was born.

        But the fact remains that a job cannot punish someone (and taking away their ability to earn a living certainly counts as punishment) for being pregnant. So either let her choose what’s best for her or ask her to stop working and pay her a proper wage to make yourself feel better. This employer isn’t going to do the second, so he/she’s left with the first. Full stop.

    5. I'm a Little Teapot*

      YES. We need to end the classist practice of giving no benefits, not even sick time, to service-industry, blue-collar, and often low-level office workers. It is telling a large swath of the population that they are not allowed to have basic human needs, and it has real economic and public health consequences.

      1. LabTech*

        +1 I’m not comfortable with this almost caste-type system where people who work those jobs aren’t able to take a day off without it affecting their pay.

        1. Anxa*

          Yeah, even though my wage is okay (yearly salary however…) and I have residual middle class benefits from my upbringing (I could move home if I have to, I have nice things from before I was poor, I never went without basic needs and was involved in a ton of extra activities), I sometimes feel like all of these people talking about 401Ks and PTO are in a totally other world. Even those whose hourly wage is lower than mine or have dependents that stretch their budgets thinner…I feel like in some dimension, they are in a class way above me.

          Paid (even partially) maternity leave seems like a fantasy.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m in the exact same position as you; although I finally got a job that pays better and has much better benefits, I actually have lived below the poverty line for quite a few years and still have the worst house, etc. of anyone in my entire family. This is the first time I’ve had a 401K and don’t notice the payroll deductions, but I still don’t make a higher contribution because I’m scared I’ll need that money and not have it. And before someone can say “But you’ll need it in retirement,” I can never retire ever because I will be paying student loans until I die. :P

            1. Judy*

              One thing I did when I first got my 401k, was to increase it by half of my annual raise each year. I eventually was putting in what I needed to. (Research says 10% is pretty good to fund retirement.) This, of course, was luckily back when raises were given, even if they were 2%.

              If your company offers a match, I’d strongly suggest working on increasing your contributions to be able to get that, it’s free money.

              1. Koko*

                I did something similar with my last raise. I had finally paid off all my debt, actually the month before my raise was announced, and I had grown accustomed to living on “Old Salary – Monthly Debt Payments.” So I started putting the equivalent of what I used to use to pay off debt into a savings account every month to eventually be a house down-payment, and about half of the amount of my pay raise into my retirement account. I still got a small but noticeable amount of extra money in my checking account each month from the other half of the raise, but now I feel like I’m socking away money like crazy compared to just barely a year ago when I had no savings and was only contributing the mandatory minimum on my retirement.

                It’s easy if you already have a workable budget for your existing salary to almost pretend the raise never happened and just divert it all into savings. You won’t miss it the way you would if you’d gotten used to spending it!

            2. Anxa*

              People think I’m being naive, but I haven’t really felt that retirement would be possible for a while. I hope to save for not being able to find a job as I’m older or being unable to work. But I have no concept of saving up enough money to quit working.

              As flippant as it sounds, some of my friends have commented that they hope right-to-die laws progress in the future so they don’t have to worry about trying to hustle to survive when they are elderly and just too tired to keep fighting.

              That said, that’s so frustrating about the student debt.

              [I know there’s been an announcement about student loan relief for the permanently disabled, but I hope there’s some relief for private loans soon, too.]

    6. AW*

      This reminds me of a big blow up that happened in a local paper years ago. The manager of a local restaurant wrote an editorial that was meant to be a “how to support local businesses thing”. What it ended up being was this guy berating his customers and it went over like a lead balloon.

      On of the things people took issue with was him complaining that customers didn’t tip his servers enough. People found it galling that the person who decided how much the servers get paid was complaining to his customers that they don’t get paid enough.

      Yes, I get that this is the norm for this industry but so is people coming into work sick or injured. That’s what happens when people can’t afford to take time off.

  5. Dan*


    I ain’t no lawyer. Not even on TV. But you asked one question and AAM answered a different one. Can you be sued? Oh hell yeah. This is America, you can be sued for anything. Even if you did nothing wrong. And you still have to pay to defend yourself. Even if you’re innocent.

    AAM answered, “Are you liable?” Different question, but I don’t know if that’s what you actually asked. Yeah, you’re probably not.

    But if you want to know if you’re going to get stuck with a legal bill that you can’t afford? Well… that’s not the question AAM answered.

    1. MK*

      That is actually an impossible question to answer, unless you can predict the future. The fact of the matter is that people daily do things that make them liable and they don’t get sued (or stuck with legal costs), because the other party doesn’t know they have a claim or doesn’t want to bother with litigation or is compensated by someone else, etc. And people who are not liable do get sued, because the other party thinks they are liable or is angry and suing everyone in sight or wants to up the pressure to the person who actually is liable; and they can get stuck with legal costs, even if they win.

      1. misspiggy*

        Wow, I learn something new every day about the US from this site. You have to pay legal costs even if you are sued and you win? Even if it’s ruled that there’s no case to answer? As far as I’m aware that’s not an issue in the UK (although the flipside is that if you get sued and lose, you have to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs).

          1. LQ*

            But even if you are 95% confident that your costs can be recovered you have to have enough money to cover it in the first place. And then you can’t really count even on something where you are fairly sure. (And I’d guess if you go forward or not has to do with your comfort with risk, personally, mine is very low so I would rather have to pay out for a settlement than have a months/years long court battle with a high chance to break even and a slim chance to loose a lot of money.)

              1. LQ*

                I’m saying that not everyone is like you. Some people are very risk adverse, you would do well to not just assume that everyone has the same comfort level with high risk, potential expensive situations you do. I’m just saying that other people may feel differently and not quite as dismissive about the risk of a lawsuit. Where are you getting your numbers that it is “plenty of times” that costs can be recovered? I was trying to give a generous assumption about recovering costs, 95% seems like “plenty” to me. (And that number which was a generous comparison to your “plenty” was the only one I gave, what other numbers are you seeing? Months? Do you think all lawsuits take less than a single month to fully complete from the start to recovery of funds?)

            1. neverjaunty*

              The idea that lawsuits take months/years to resolve, always, and that the smart play is to shut up and pay, is untrue. There are lots of mechanisms for tossing out nuisance suits.

              Also, bluntly, this is what insurance is for.

              1. LQ*

                I thought that the mechanisms for tossing out nuisance suits like slapp laws were only in certain states? I never said always. I just said that for some people the risk is higher than their threshold.

                Insurance is a very good suggestion, is there insurance for this kind of thing?

                1. Ultraviolet*

                  I’ll answer this one, since ten years ago I took one semester of lower-division undergraduate business law. And no one else has answered.

                  The insurance that could cover this is called professional liability insurance. Medical malpractice insurance is a type of professional liability insurance a lot of people have heard of. But when I was checking Wikipedia to corroborate my hazy recollections, I read that “Professional liability insurance coverage usually does not include defamation,” but that you can probably get extra coverage for civil liabilities like defamation.

          2. Megs*

            Those tend to be exceptions to the rule, however, and are usually situations where there’s a statutory cost-shifting or egregious behavior (beyond just not having a case). The US default is each party pays.

        1. Joseph*

          In the US business world, you often don’t really “win” when you’re defending a lawsuit. At least not in the classic sense of the word “win”. It’s more like “losing by a smaller margin”.

          1.) In many cases, you still have to pay your own attorney fees. Sometimes you can get the costs recovered, but not always. This is highly dependent on the situation, the exact law being violated and many other items.
          2.) Even if you DO get your attorney fees paid for, that repayment comes months or years later. If you’re a small or mid-size business (as in OP’s case), that’s money that you may not have simply lying around. Even if you did have the money available, while that money is tied up, you’re not using it to invest in your business in other ways.
          3.) You’re losing the client. Even if OP is in the right, you get a negative association and clients often will view it as “how come you didn’t warn me” not “well, it was my own fault”.
          4.) Time is money. Meeting with lawyers, dealing with depositions, attending settlement/mediation talks, attending court, and so on. This is doubly true because OP works freelance, so every hour spent in legal talks is a direct opportunity cost where OP could have been getting paid.

          Frankly, the costs of lawsuits are so high that it’s extremely common for companies to pay a small settlement *even when they’re 100% in the clear and right* simply because it’s cheaper to do so than to go to court and win.

        2. Creag an Tuire*

          So is the UK “loser pays”, then?

          Because while our system certainly has a lot of problems, the flip side of a loser-pays system seems to be that an individual would be terrified to sue anybody with a more expensive attorney(s) than the plaintiff could afford, even if their case was winnable.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            You’d think that would be the case, but our law courts flourish! Of course, from our side of the Atlantic, we look at “winner pays anyway” aghast, because that means any nasty, small-minded person with cash to pay their own lawyer has no deterrents against taking out malicious lawsuits with the intention of causing financial harm, regardless of if they have any merit (except where there’s anti-SLAPP legislation)

  6. Purple Chucks*

    Re: Pregnant Bartender
    I’m currently 7 months pregnant after a loss last year, so that colors my input. I would suggest the OP consider what you can do to help, like making it possible for her to take breaks more often, providing a stool so she can get off her feet, adjusting the dress code if needed so she is comfortable, etc. Perhaps most importantly, ask her if there is anything she might suggest that would be helpful, work to accommodate her suggestions within reason, and let her know that you respect her decisions.

    1. Sarahnova*

      This; if you can’t do anything else, please do your best to ensure that she can sit down as much as possible, takes frequent breaks to eat, drink, and use the bathroom, and anything else you can do to prevent her becoming exhausted and dehydrated.

      1. Sarahnova*

        And if there’s any possibility of switching her to less physically demanding duties, say behind the scenes, please consider doing so.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Although keep in mind that Trudy would need to be okay with that; otherwise it would run afoul of the pregnancy discrimination regulations. (And she may not be okay with that if it means she’d be earning significantly less through tips.)

          1. Sarahnova*

            Good point; I was forgetting the impact of your different wage laws and standards. An important step is definitely to talk to Trudy – although I doubt she is enjoying becoming so dehydrated she needs to go to hospital, so as long as she can maintain her income I imagine she would be OK with some amendments.

            1. Terra*

              And anything you say or do document, document, document. I know we like to believe that people are reasonable but on the off chance that something happens to the baby and Trudy tries to sue for that or discrimination, documentation is your friend.

      2. KR*

        Bonus for sitting down! Especially the prep work and some cleaning that comes with the restaurant industry that could definitely be done sitting at a table or stool.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yup. The only reason it’s not done sitting down is that people don’t like the way it looks. I worked retail for a while and one woman had foot surgery and had to sit at the register, and we got a couple of complaints. I like Aldi’s grocery stores because they’re more sensible about that!

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            This is totally tangential, but I have *never* understood the people who complain about employees sitting on stool or having water.

            1. Kelly L.*

              I think there are some subconscious feelings about power that cause this. (Warning: word-kraken ahead, I’ve thought about this before.)

              So, I think we have it in the back of our heads that the person who’s sitting is in power and the person who’s standing is of a lower rank. Louis XIV got to sit on his throne, his immediate family got chairs, his extended family got stools, everybody else had to stand the whole time they were at court. Kings sit, the president stands when he speaks, I think to symbolize that he’s a public servant and not a ruler. You get called into your boss’s office to get told off, she’s seated and you’re standing in front of her desk getting the riot act. Same with kids and the principal. And I think people want, subconsciously, to see their customer service workers stand, because that makes them “servants.” Yes, it’s kind of yucky. I don’t think most people have even thought it through, though.

              1. Bwmn*

                I think that’s a really interesting thought – but I would also counter with the notion that there’s also something about sitting that appears like rest or being lazy. Something around the idea of “take a load off your feet”.

                There’s a comedian who has a bit around his time working in a largely unpopular store in a mall, and his manager’s repeat phrase was apparently “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean”. So while I think the power dynamic may definitely play into it, I think it’s far more associated to an appearance of not working.

                1. Grapey*

                  I agree with you since knee jerk reactions aren’t rational, but my counter counter to “appears like rest or being lazy” is that people shouldn’t make so many assumptions.

                2. Kelly L.*

                  I think that’s part of it too, but I think sitting-looks-like-laziness is related to the power idea, rather than being a counter to it.

                  I hate the lean/clean phrase sooooo much. I saw the BBT episode again last night where Sheldon says it, and it was like full-body cringe. It’s all part of the illusion that service workers don’t have bodies and needs and hurting feet.

                3. Kelly L.*

                  (Especially since nobody thinks a CEO is being lazy when she’s at her desk. If a CEO is at her desk, people think she’s working hard. Sitting=lazy only seems to apply to the poorer classes. It’s all intertwined.)

          2. Jerry Vandesic*

            The California supreme court, in Kilby vs CVS, recently came down on the side of employees being allowed to sit if their job tasks would allow.

    2. irritable vowel*

      And lead by example by putting the kibosh on any talk that might be going on amongst the staff. “Trudy is a great worker and I’m confident in her decision-making abilities. Susie, if you’d like to help by stepping behind the bar for 5 minutes every hour so Trudy can use the bathroom, that would be great.”

    3. Preggers*

      I think the best thing to do is be approachable. Many managers think they are approachable when they are not. You can’t make her take more breaks or use a stool but you can let her know its ok to ask for an accommodation like those things. I often wait far longer to ask my boss for help because he’s horrid to talk to. Then he asks why I didn’t ask him sooner.

  7. AcademiaNut*

    I really don’t like lunch meetings. I find that taking a break, moving around a bit, and clearing my head means I’m much more productive in the afternoon – if I work straight through, I find myself staring blankly at the wall by about 3pm. Not to mention the annoyance of trying to eat while discussing something, or taking notes, and spilling food on my laptop keyboard.

  8. Christy*

    #4, think of it this way–after you have been working at your company for one year (February to February), you will have earned ten days. You have to wait for the entire year to elapse for the days to accumulate like that. So you can either track the days on a Feb-Feb cycle or just say that your first year you’re short. Whichever works for you.

    1. Edward Rooney*

      I’ve seen both ways, my current job accrues days from the start at a fixed rate of X hours per pay period. Other jobs have had days accrue, but at a rate of 1 or 1.5 days per month which gave you 10 days in the first 10 months, and the last 2 months didn’t earn you anything, so if you started in Feb you would still have your 10. Every company is different.

  9. Mookie*

    LW1, it seems you’re suggesting that the earlier miscarriage was, somehow, a product of your employee’s continued employment. (You never actually explained why that “detail” was relevant, but that’s how it reads to me.) Unless you’ve some definitive evidence — like the bartender explicitly stating that the miscarriage was brought on by work — there’s no reason to assume that. Miscarriages happen all the time, and more often that not they’re not the result of anything external, but just a natural, inevitable occurrence, and many, many future parents will experience them, many current parents have. Early contractions, or sensations that mimic them, are extremely common and often occur quite early in a pregnancy. Your concern about something happening during work hours is kind of bizarre: people spend a lot of time, sometimes the bulk of their week, at work. Health issues for all people are inevitable. You are not responsible for mitigating against them because you have no control over when they occur, and were pregnancy not so visible, you’d never know it was happening, the same as many other “invisible” health events of considerably more import.

    You accommodated Trudy during a temporary illness (same as you would for any employee), and that’s great and also your minimum responsibility. You need to trust your employee, and you also need to understand that everyone who has ever worked for you does need their paycheck. Paychecks are rarely optional for anyone. Even if your intentions are good, even if you feel like you’re looking out for the health of your employee, you are replicating here some pretty tired, trodden ground, that women don’t need a paycheck like a man does, that there’s something aberrant or dangerous about someone who would work through a health event (the most neutral way I can describe this). You don’t get to make that call, at least not under the present circumstances. You don’t know best. People sacrifice their health for steady income all the time; do you probe and prod every staff member this way, or just a pregnant person? Her being pregnant, her planning a family: those are the very reasons a paycheck is so important. Target her now, irrespective of what her colleagues are saying, and you set a precedent laced with bias.

    1. Sarahnova*

      Miscarriages are very, very common up to 12 weeks, but much less common afterwards; a loss at four and a half months is both unusual and likely physically very traumatic as well as emotionally. It’s possible that a late miscarriage like this was more closely investigated and did have *something* to do with Trudy’s work , although it’s also very possible that like most miscarriages it was just bad sodding luck. But it could easily mean that Trudy’s current pregnancy is higher risk, whereas most “routine”* first trimester miscarriages would not.

      *Let me be clear; I know no miscarriage is “routine” for the woman, and I have been there – I’m speaking about the level of physical complication.

      1. Mookie*

        Yes, you’re right. Characterizing it as a common at that stage in pregnancy was wrong of me. Thank you.

      2. Sarahnova*

        Having reflected a bit more, I suspect this detail is relevant, and the relevance is that Trudy is considered high risk for premature labour.

        1. Mookie*

          Which she probably knows, one way or the other, and which is likely pure and unhelpful speculation on the part of everyone else.

          1. Sarahnova*

            I don’t know; is it that unlikely that she would have told her boss that? I certainly would, but I live in another country where I am afforded protections such that I wouldn’t be in Trudy’s situation, and my employer would be obliged to conduct a risk assessment to ensure I could do my job without risk to myself or my pregnancy.

            Assuming OP#1 is in the US, I agree with Alison’s advice (with the addendum of some suggestions about what she can reasonably do to support Trudy), but I do think the fact that Trudy may well be having a high-risk pregnancy is relevant on the human level. Her boss shouldn’t decide what’s best for her, but she may well have greater physical limitations than a woman having a low-risk pregnancy.

            1. Mookie*

              I mean, fine, but what does it matter as far as advice for the LW goes? Trudy shared some information (miscarriage before, contractions more recently), so she doesn’t seem particularly reticent and the LW’s aware of prevailing laws because they mention them.

              People are preggers all the time, and they manage to work and have fun and squirt out interesting brews and cocktails and perform all manner of bartender functions (listening to tales of woe, witnessing awful first dates) and do all sorts of other human-type things even in the midst of a potentially complicated pregnancy. It’s important to reinforce Trudy’s autonomy and intelligence, and of those belonging to people like her.

              1. Mookie*

                Particularly in a country where, as you say, those protections are not de iure but depend largely on the benevolence and reasonableness of others.

              2. Mookie*

                (I used “I mean” in a comment just there! Proves it’s sometimes employed by actually existing, totally real-life, no backsies people!)

              3. Sarahnova*

                Fair question. I guess I’d say its relevance is that OP#1 may well be justified in having serious concerns about the fact that Trudy was having some contractions, and that it may make it more urgent and necessary that OP#1 formally supports Trudy in taking regular breaks, keeping a water bottle with her, etc. There is useful ground between “putting Trudy on leave” and “not treating Trudy any different whatsoever”.

                Don’t get me wrong, I agree 100% with supporting Trudy’s autonomy and right to make decisions about her employment. I had a healthy, low-risk pregnancy in which I stayed very active, and it drove me bonkers when male colleagues panicked and rushed to relieve me of anything heavier than a coffee mug. But some pregnancies do need greater support.

                1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                  I’ll agree with this point; I doubt that it’s so much the OP saying, “Pregnant women are in danger at work!” and more “Some pregnancies require special attention and accommodation; how will we know if this is one of them until it becomes too late and there is an emergency?” I know with a prior miscarriage that the OP is aware of, that concern would be overshadowing other, still important, concerns, like how will the bartender maintain a living.

                  I know to those considering not having a paycheck, that sounds alarming;
                  But OP could be more worried about (their role in causing – even if they’re not causing, they just feel that way for being involved in a supervisory capacity) another miscarriage.

      3. Just Another Techie*

        IF her pregnancy is high risk, and that’s a big IF, that’s a concern for her doctor to share with her, not her boss.

    2. Dan*

      I have to be honest, I’m a bit offended by your post. You’re making this a gender issue where I’m not sure it is. Hospitality workers, regardless of gender, deserve paid time off. Few get it. Men or women, I don’t care; they all should get paid vacation/sick time like every other working stiff in this in this country. Men get sick. Men have families. Men need time off too. Whenever I read an article about “women need X in the workplace” well, said article pretty much always applies equally to men.

      I’ll give it to you, though, I have no idea what OP’s employee’s previous miscarriage has got to do with the price of tea in China. If it’s irrelevant, why is OP bringing it up?

      1. Mookie*

        The thesis of my comment was, in fact, that singling out pregnant people* for special “concern” is, in fact, gendered when all people are capable of being ill or having health issues, hence my saying this

        Health issues for all people are inevitable. You are not responsible for mitigating against them because you have no control over when they occur, and were pregnancy not so visible, you’d never know it was happening, the same as many other “invisible” health events of considerably more import.

        and posing this question

        People sacrifice their health for steady income all the time; do you probe and prod every staff member this way, or just a pregnant person?

        *not all pregnant people are women; the issue is still gendered largely because of the invisibility of non-binary and trans people

      2. Mookie*

        Whenever I read an article about “women need X in the workplace” well, said article pretty much always applies equally to men.

        Nope, many industries are hostile to women and women have had an historical disadvantage in gaining training and education, pursuing long-term careers in male-dominated trades, applying for membership to guilds and unions, and securing apprenticeships. Women are not always accommodated the way men are, and are frequently pushed into mommy/wife tracks.

        1. Mookie*

          Great example of this is that feminists have long been pushing for access to extended parental leave. The industry in the US offering the most generous leave? Male-dominated tech companies (where an extraordinary low number, incidentally, of men are actually capitalizing on that leave).

      3. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        Unfortunately in this case, you can’t ignore the inherent sexist paternalism that comes from worrying about pregnant ladies. (She says, as a pregnant lady herself). It’s been the issue that has kept women from working, from being considered viable candidates for work, and especially in the case of hourly employees, a good excuse to drop women from the work force like hot potatoes. “Oh, you can’t lift 60 pounds? Sorry, can’t work for us”- a common occurrence.

        The truth of the matter is that pregnancy is not nearly as fragile as it appears. Or… maybe, it IS fragile, but the sort of fragility we’re talking about usually outside the control of the pregnant person and medical science. Most of us don’t need much more than more frequent bathroom breaks and the right to have a bottle of water with us (something I have to fight for with some of my judges, sigh)

        Pregnant women are basically treated like public property, their bodies and habits open for public comment and criticism. And the only way women (even women who are not or never are going to be pregnant) can truly make gains in the workplace from the alcohol bar to the legal bar is for people to truly accept that pregnant women are not some magical mystical otherworldly vessel that need protecting. Until either no woman gets pregnant or we are just plain across the board nonchalant about it, women will always be seen as slightly less desirable employees.

        1. Sarahnova*

          But is it paternalistic to recognise that Trudy’s in kind of a crappy situation? If she’s becoming badly dehydrated, she probably feels like crap, and her body is unquestionably under more strain than usual. But she needs her income, and that may be forcing her to continue to work in a way which makes her miserable even if it doesn’t risk her long-term health or the pregnancy. Or she may be having a high-risk pregnancy where there *are* at least potential negative consequences. I think there’s still a lot of guesswork involved when it comes to risk factors and how much activity/lifting/standing/whatever is “too much”.

          I think we’re all against Trudy’s employer unilaterally deciding “you aren’t fit to work, please go on leave”. Maybe this is a cultural difference, but I’m pretty okay with the fact that where I am, my employer is considered to have a duty of care towards me, pregnant or not, male or female, and if my standard role/duties pose a risk to me during pregnancy, my employer must modify my duties, assign me to another role, or (as a last resort) put me on leave on full pay. I don’t feel that this constitutes treating me like public property. Obviously, OP#1 cannot change the law, but she can probably make some small changes to Trudy’s working conditions that will help her – and she can most certainly start by talking to Trudy, and taking it into account that Trudy has expressed a need to maintain and maximise her current income.

          Anyway, evidently I have a lot of views and feels about this, so I’ll take a break for now.

          1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

            So, my doctor knows what I do for a living. She knows my activity level. She knows how much I’m on my feet, how often I get to take breaks, how much water I drink, how much food I eat.

            Trudy’s doctor does too. If Trudy’s doctor hasn’t said “You have to quit” or if her doctor has given her a timeline or if her doctor has given her the risks and benefits, OP1 doesn’t really need to come in and say “Well, but as your employer….”

            When and if Trudy asks for accommodation, that’s the time for the employer to say “Well, we can’t do that but we can do this” or whatever. Not before.

            It’s the assumption that the employer knows better what is too much for Trudy that gets me. She’s got a doctor. She’s being told PLENTY about her life, believe me.

            1. Some sort of manangement consultant*

              Trudy’s doctor knows this if Trudy has access to healthcare. Which we can’t be sure of. Unfortunately.

              But agreed in general, Trudy knows best.

              1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

                Sadly quite true. But Trudy not having a doctor doesn’t give OP1 (or any of the rest of us) a medical degree.

                1. One of the Sarahs*

                  +1, and if Trudy isn’t accessing healthcare, making her unemployed isn’t the way to encourage her to get some, in a country where pre-natal healthcare has a pricetag

            2. aebhel*

              I think it is possible for the OP to proactively offer accommodations, without it being paternalistic, though. A lot of people–particularly people in precarious situations wrt income–are very leery of asking for any kind of accommodation that might make them look like ‘too much trouble’ to their employer, so it can be very helpful for the employer to be proactive about it. If the OP offers some commonsense accommodations (bathroom breaks, continual access to water, a place to sit down if possible), asks Trudy if there’s anything else she can do to make the workplace more safe/comfortable to her, that’s not unreasonable. That’s what I would expect a good employer to do for anyone experiencing a temporary health condition.

            3. Meg Murry*

              I think this is generally true, however, I think OP can also be supportive of Trudy by saying to her “please let me know what you and your doctor determine you need to have a healthy, successful pregnancy” and then work with her to make the accommodations.

              I know when I was pregnant and insecure about my job I wasn’t willing to speak up about the little accommodations that would have made my life easier at work, even though they were little or no cost to the employer and easy to do – like the examples given of a stool to sit on when its slow or allowing her to keep a water bottle at her workstation. I just hadn’t learned to advocate for myself yet, and was trying to fly under the radar – feeling guilty that I was going to be an inconvenience with needing to take maternity leave at all. Trudy might feel worried that “she’s already caused so much fuss” and not want to say anything now.

              OP, if Trudy’s doctor told her she needed to go on bed rest or other restriction from working now, would you still have her back after her leave, even though that is more than the 12 weeks FMLA requires? Or would you still allow her to take at least 6 weeks of maternity leave (minimum, more would be better) even if she has to take time off before the birth? If so, please tell her that – she might be pushing herself to work as long as possible for fear of losing her job if she needs longer than 12 weeks. Of course, as others have pointed out, she might also be trying to work as long or as much as possible against her doctors recommendation in order to save for maternity leave and pay her bills now.

              Relatedly, our local bar has started doing a maternity leave fundraiser for its pregnant staff (and they have also done it for other staff in need, like when one server was in a car accident and broke his arm so he couldn’t wait tables for a few months) by having an event like a taco bar for $X a plate (something where the food is cheap and easy for the kitchen to make, and the patrons can serve themselves) with all the proceeds from that sale going to support the employee in need. They usually also have a donation jar as well, and sometimes something like a “signature drink” where $X for each one of those drinks purchased goes to the fund. For the maternity leave fundraisers, it also serves as kind of a baby shower for the regulars to join in – often regular patrons will bring a gift or gift card as well. If Trudy is popular with your regulars, they may want to support her in some way like that.

          2. hbc*

            The right thing to do is to recognize that Trudy has a medical condition that she may or may not want accommodation for, and give what accommodation she can. Even better, look at whether it hurts to give that accommodation to everyone–30 second water breaks every 30 minutes is a good thing for humans, not just pregnant humans.

            If Trudy chooses to not avail herself of water breaks, or use her breaks to smoke, or come into work even when the doctor says she should be laying down, that’s only the OP’s business so far as it impacts how Trudy does her job. OP doesn’t get to police Trudy’s health choices just because she’s choosing for two now.

      4. Artemesia*

        No men are pregnant on the job or facing the problems the OP’s employee is facing. A late miscarriage is not ‘routine or common’ and if work has brought on dehydration and contractions at 6 mos, it is quite possible that the first miscarriage was precipitated by similar problems or that she is prone to premature labor. Everyone should have sick time available as paid time off. Pregnant women have a whole set of additional needs and the OP should do her best to make sure this woman gets the support she needs on the job to be off her feet occasionally and to take appropriate breaks and to get enough to drink even if it means relaxing rules about drinking in the front of the house etc etc. It is a woman’s issue because no man gets pregnant and pregnancy has its particular risks. Frankly to pretend this is not a women’s issue sounds to me as ‘all lives matter.’ i.e. tone deaf.

      5. leslie knope*

        this is such a tone-deaf comment. men and women absolutely face different issues in the workplace.

    3. the gold digger*

      you’re suggesting that the earlier miscarriage was, somehow, a product of your employee’s continued employment

      Agreed – it probably had nothing to do with the job. I am pretty sure that my grandmother never got to stay in bed instead of milking the cows twice a day or taking care of the vegetable garden or canning veg or baking bread or washing clothes, including cloth diapers (she was highly motivated to potty train her kids young), and putting them through the wringer or caring for her other children during her seven pregnancies. Women have been standing and working and running and doing hard stuff while pregnant for all of history. The human race has survived.

      1. Artemesia*

        I never had a seat belt as a child or a child seat and yet here I am alive and kicking as an old lady so I can’t imagine why we insist children use child seats and seat belts in cars.

        1. the gold digger*

          My point was that the work is not necessarily what caused the miscarriage.

          And really, there is no practical way to insist that pregnant women stay off their feet during their pregnancies. So Trudy doesn’t go to work? Who takes care of the children she already has? What happens at home? How do groceries get into the house? Telling someone she can’t work because she is pregnant does not solve the problem. Women still have to stand up, even when they are not at work.

        2. Erin*

          You guys are really pulling apart what the gold digger is saying. Clearly she would not advocate children not wearing seat belts or car seats, and this is not helpful for the OP.

          Her point is that many women stand/function/work throughout pregnancy safely, and have been for many years. OP’s concern comes from the right place, but her employee is a grown woman who can make it own decisions with regard to her health.

        3. Batman's a Scientist*

          That’s a different issue. Women don’t need to stop doing their normal activities when they become pregnant unless there’s some sort of medical reason.

      2. neverjaunty*

        “It didn’t actually wipe us out as a species” is the most ridiculous argument ever for maintaining a practice. And you might want to go look up maternal health and child mortality statistics before rhapsodizing about how much sturdier pregnant women were in Gramma’s day.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That is not caused by doing housework. In the nineteenth century, maternal mortality went down when doctors learned to wash their hands between patients. It dropped even further when standards of care by birth attendants went up after the mid-to-late 1930s and antibacterial drugs were introduced. Current infant and maternal mortality rates in countries are higher where there is little to no pre-natal care.

          Women experiencing a healthy pregnancy and getting good care can certainly weed the garden and take care of their other children and hold down a job without help.

      3. Is It Performance Art*

        The attitude that we should assume anything strenuous is automatically dangerous for pregnant women and therefore tell them not to do it drives me up the wall. We did not evolve to be sedentary. Exercise while you’re pregnant isn’t dangerous. It may even be good fort the fetal heart. Bed rest doesn’t reduce the risk of a miscarriage or premature birth, but it does raise your risk of blood clots which is already dramatically higher when you’re pregnant. (And you can be legally compelled to take bed rest.). Most people probably mean well because that’s what they hear over and over again.

    4. Erin*

      I’d assume it’s relevant because that could mean she’s a higher risk pregnancy or might have additional health issues. That being said, I agree with Sarahnova – now that she’s at six months a miscarriage is very unlikely.

      1. Meg Murry*

        OP used the term “miscarriage” – but at 4 1/2 months, that is just as likely to basically have been premature labor where the baby was too young to survive or died as a result of complications in too early labor.

        At this point (6 months) a miscarriage is unlikely – but premature labor is still a real danger, and if Trudy had a scare with early contractions, concern is warranted. At the end of the day though, the commentariat is right that all OP can do is ask Trudy what she needs, s/he can’t force any decisions on Trudy.

  10. Not Today Satan*

    #2, I would definitely push back. Exempt is supposed to be a give and take–e.g., you attend this lunch time meeting, but then you have the flexibility to take an hour break at a later time. It doesn’t seem like your job has this flexibility.
    My job was very specifically described as a 40 hour a week job at hire, but really I am required to have an hour lunch on my schedule. I work through lunch sometimes and it’s not the end of the world, but if my employers took away my entire break on a weekly basis all hell would break loose.

    1. Kelly L.*

      +1. Same here. If I work during the time I usually have lunch, I’m supposed to be able to take “lunch” (whether I’ve already eaten or not–I mean leave the office) during a different hour of the day. I’m salaried, but this lunch hour is baked into everything (such as how I accrue leave, etc.).

    2. Doriana Gray*

      I was coming to say this. I’m salaried exempt, and anytime we have a lunch and learn here where there’s no food (this is rare – we usually get food) or the food being served isn’t something I can eat, I take my lunch break directly after.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        I do this too, step out after the lunch meetings. I thrive on the “away from work” break in the middle of the day to recharge, whether or not food is involved. I’ve had a cast on my right foot for over a month and haven’t been able to drive, so these days I’m creative about finding a quiet spot somewhere in the building to eat lunch and be alone. I can’t wait until I can drive again!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        The non-exempt people in the office likely cant’ do that, so it would be nice to point that out also. And they should be paid for that time if it’s a work meeting.

  11. Liane*

    I think OP1’s question needs the “Let’s not diagnose over the internet” disclaimer. Only forty or so comments, but I see a lot of this already, in debates as to whether Trudy’s risk of miscarriage is relevant and characterizing her pregnancy as “high risk.”

    1. addlady*

      I think that these are more questions about whether the level of involvement by op1 should change if we assume different levels of risk.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        And I would say the answer to that is “no.” Regardless of how high-risk Trudy’s pregnancy is (which the OP doesn’t know and the AAM commentariat don’t know), it is Trudy’s pregnancy to manage. A higher-risk pregnancy doesn’t mean that the pregnant woman has less bodily autonomy or is less of an adult capable of making her own decisions.

        1. Rana*

          Especially when none of us are her doctor, and so are making assumptions about what her risk level might be. (I say this as an older mother who ended up going with midwives because I was tired of everyone else seeing my age – rather than my health or fitness or genetics – as the primary indication of risk in my pregnancy.)

  12. CADMonkey007*

    #1 Whether or not Trudy needs to cut down on her hours is between her and her doctor.

    1. Artemesia*

      But whether she gets additional support like breaks, a stool, being allowed to have drinks nearby is up to her boss and many people, particularly people who are desperately in need of their paycheck and tips will be reluctant to ask the boss for extra support while pregnant. The boss needs to ask her what support she needs on the job and offer the obvious kinds of accommodation so she knows her job is not threatened by her need to take more breaks or drink more fluids or whatever it is that keeps a paycheck coming and allows her to take care of herself.

  13. WhiteBear*

    #5 This is so weird, because a few nights ago I submitted a resume and cover letter to a company that I’ve always wanted to work for (and have worked for in the past, just not in my desired department). That night I had a dream that HR emailed me back with ‘by the way, we found an older application from you from 2010, thought you might want to check it out for old times sake!’ Knowing how I wrote resumes when I was still a teenager, this was a pretty cringeworthy dream. When I woke up, I wondered whether its something they might actually do.

    1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      Oh no! That’s a very vivid dream!

      I get a note along with the application that “Mr. Smith applied for the XX position in 2014.” The only time I looked back at a previous application was when it someone who had applied for the same position less than a year ago in a different division.

  14. Bluesboy*

    #5 When I was a hiring manager I would sometimes go back through my records to the old CV if when saving the CV I saw that I had another with the same name.

    I would open the old CV in order to make sure that it was the same person, and that done, would delete the old CV. I don’t want to find myself accidentally printing the wrong one just before the interview and conducting the interview based on old info.

    Speaking for myself then, the only reason you would have to worry is if the start to your CV (i.e. the bit I check to make sure you’re the same person) is awful! (Like the one I had where half of the first page was taken up by a photo of them in a modelling pose…for a job as a teaching assistant. Or the one where the applicant specified why really they wanted a different job but was applying for this one as they had bills to pay and it was close to their apartment).

    As long as yours was reasonably professional you certainly wouldn’t have had any problems with me!

    1. Artemesia*

      FWIW. When a colleague was up for promotion, the committee did look at the current vita and compare it with older versions and noted that she was presenting accomplishments in a different way and concluded her accomplishments were less impressive than being presented currently. I would be shocked if someone fine combed an old resume and noted a job being left off, but then I was sort of shocked at the vita comparisons.

  15. AdAgencyChick*

    #4 — ask! Just say, “I’m getting X days of vacation this year because it’s prorated, right?” Hopefully your boss will confirm, but if there’s a mixup, better to find out sooner than later so it can be fixed.

  16. Dubby*


    Just a suggested tweak to the “Nope, sorry, too busy” punt response, add in some temporary time constraint right now. As in, “Sorry, I’m working pretty heavily on a personal writing project which is limiting the number of clients I could take on right now. I don’t think I could devote my full attention to this project in the timeframe you listed. Best of luck!”

    This won’t make it seem strange that he may see you seeking out additional work later.

    1. Beezus*

      That gives him an opening to tweak the timeline to suit your schedule, and makes it harder to say no once he starts down that path. When you need to offer polite made-up excuses to avoid doing something you don’t want to do, vague ones are better.

  17. GigglyPuff*

    Just ask Trudy.
    And don’t let her brush it off (I’m only saying that cause sometimes asking for help is hard, I’m totally one of those people), let her know you’re willing to make accommodations if she needs them (ex: more bathroom breaks, visible drink, help lifting heavy items, etc).

    1. Observer*

      It’s not just that asking for help is hard. It’s also that Trudy has good reason to fear that if she accepts the offered help she’ll be marked as having a problem that the boss would like to solve by pushing her out the door – and she NEEDS the job.

      So, OP what you need to do is not push her, but make it crystal clear that you won’t penalize her for things like taking extra bathroom breaks and drinking when she needs to. And, you need to MEAN it and ACT ON IT.

  18. CM*

    For #3, I’d be concerned that the “too busy” suggestions are like when somebody asks you on a date — if you’re “too busy” they may ask again later, so it’s better to say “not interested.” I would say, “Sorry, I’m not comfortable working on copy with this subject matter, but if you have other editing needs in the future I’d be happy to work with you.” (However, OP#3 is worried about offending this person, so maybe this isn’t the best approach for them.)

    1. OP3*

      Yes, I’ve already foisted off this client once before with “too busy.” I may have to just bite the bullet and say that this is out of my comfort zone.

  19. Michelle*

    Re: meetings during lunch- I hate meetings scheduled during lunch. I’m a “late” eater, as in I usually eat breakfast between 7:45-8:30 am, so I’m not hungry at 12 pm. I usually eat around 1:30-2 pm. So when we have lunch meetings (buy/bring your own, never provided) people always ask “Why are you not eating? Are you not hungry? Want some of mine?”. Then I feel like I need to explain or, if I get enough notice, I will have a very lite breakfast or skip it altogether.

    Thankfully, we don’t have too many lunch meetings, maybe 3 or 4 a year, but my direct supervisor thinks they’re great team-builders.

    1. the gold digger*

      It is not team building to make me skip going to the on-site gym at lunch. It is not team building to make me spend what I regard as my free time with other people. It is not team building to make me bitter.

      1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

        Heh. I love the limitations of my position in these times.

        “Come do [teambuilding event] with us!”
        “Oh, I would, but I have to watch the phone…” (and look at optical illusions/cats on the internet)

        I like it, too, because if I really want to join, I can almost always find someone to take over for me out of pity, because I so rarely voluntarily leave the front desk.

  20. Erin*

    #1 – I would let her make her own choices with regard to how much she can work and how much she can handle, but make it clear to her that you’re there for her and are ready to be flexible with her needs. Make it easy for her to approach you if she decides to change her mind in how to handle this.

  21. grasshopper*

    #1 It is a question of want versus need. Trudy doesn’t want to endanger her pregnancy and she needs to work. It is up to her to make the choices about what is more important – her health or being able to pay her bills. Cutting off her source of income puts her more in danger than any potential hazards of working. If the employer really cares about the well being of pregnant women, start by having paid maternity leave, disability, health benefits, etc. THAT is what would allow her to make the choices that are best for her health – both financial health and physical health.

    1. the gold digger*

      paid maternity leave, disability, health benefits

      A paid maternity leave for a small company could be a real hardship. My uncle and cousins have a very small business and I cannot imagine it generating enough profit to pay 25% of the workforce not to be at work for three months.

      1. grasshopper*

        There are only two countries without paid maternity leave: Papua New Guinea and the United States of America.

        Almost every other country in the world manages to afford paid maternity leave, either through the employer or the government.

        1. Sunflower*

          I’m not here to debate what we should or should’t have but you can’t really say ‘well all the other countries have this figured out so this person should be able to figure it out as well’ That doesn’t help when the US is what is it is.

          Trudy probably receives a paycheck of 0-2 dollars each pay period. At best, her employer could give her PTO for min wage and that 1. isn’t really going to help and 2. is probably grossly less than what she makes bartending. When someone’s wages are entirely based on commission, it would be impossible to find that money elsewhere. Or tell someone ‘ok we’re gonna work with 3 bartenders instead of 4 but we’re still splitting 4 ways so Trudy can stay home’ That logic is NEVER going to work in a restaurant.

          1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

            That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking while reading the comments suggesting the OP give Trudy PTO; bartenders generate $ based on how well they (each) do, how successful they are at reading the crowd and working it. Each bartender’s tip compensation is based on (ideally) how much was spent that night, which in turn depends (ideally) on how well the bartender performed. If Trudy is the top earner (which, true, you could put on the OP to hire ‘better’ staff so that the bar could afford to give PTO for family needs, but that’s not necessarily feasible), there’s no way the bar could afford to pay her for an extended leave. It has always been my experience while serving that pregnant coworkers take unpaid leave if they are even allowed to return, and that generally depends on how well they performed when working, ie how badly the company wants them back, as having them back may come with accommodations that cost the company money.

            And I am super, SUPER all for women working up to the due date (or whenever) if they are able/want to. But really – I haven’t seen one person yet at the time of making this post that has implied the comfort level of customers with having a pregnant woman serve them alcohol. All I’m thinking is, You’re going to need to sit more/take more breaks/possibly be less friendly because you’re dealing with an inordinate amount of stress by planning for your & your’s futures, so I’m going to get slow/poor service, but I’m not going to complain to your face because I’m not an asshole to pregnant ladies, plus should I feel pressured to overtip, as is my standard, even if I get poor service just because I feel guilty staring at your belly that by not overlooking poor service I’m potentially (not potentially, actually; directly) lowering how much you bring home to take care of yourself? Why should I put myself in this position? I’d go to another bar. Pregnant ladies are probably, at least somewhat, thinking of how to better their lives for their chilluns; when I am drinking, I want to let go of what’s stressing me out. Example: I’m going to feel weird about cussing a lot/talking about certain subjects around a very pregnant person. Why? Because most people aren’t comfortable with strangers cussing around their kids, or talking about inappropriate things; my logic is, even if the pregnant lady herself is a cusser, it’s hitting her why people think that stuff is a bad influence when she hears those around her so it so insensitively. Bam – no bonding with my bartender, no building a relationship there. Her values are no longer akin to mine, even if they were; she is now a Mother.

            And I’m truly sorry if that is offensive, to anyone. I have working pregnant relatives right now, and I don’t feel wildly off-base with my opinion. Maybe it’s not “right”, but it’s how I feel. If I were OP, unless I had evidence pointing to this not being an issue for that area’s culture, I’d also be worried about lower income just by keeping her on while so visibly pregnant. Which also really sucks for Trudy, but bars/restaurants are spending their income constantly on maintaining product supply; they aren’t significant money-makers, with few exceptions. People who own restaurants/bars are in it because it’s what they love or what they know how to do, and they Want to see it succeed – which it needs constant, top-earning workers to achieve.

            I mean, do most people enjoy drinking around new parents? Even if that’s not an issue, where are people (who are suggesting this) thinking the money to fund PTO is coming from?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Just to be clear, though, the law says that the OP cannot take customers’ potential discomfort about the pregnancy into account when making decisions about Trudy.

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                I fully agree that it shouldn’t; I was just trying to look at it from the illegal/immoral side, to argue that. I was arguing based on someone making those decisions; mainly, this is how some people ARE going to feel, regardless of what’s right/wrong. Really, really didn’t mean for it to come out like I thought that was the right thing; just that it does happen, sometimes, and how would someone argue the other side, other than to just say “Yeah? Well it Shouldn’t be like that because the law says so.”

                I knew I was taking a risk by taking that stand; however, I didn’t mean to offend anybody. Just posing an argument for argument’s sake, instead of saying the same thing everybody else was saying. Didn’t work, and I truly apologize to those who were offended.

            2. Judy*

              Are you suggesting OP fire the pregnant bartender or reduce the shifts of the pregnant bartender?

              Because that is illegal.

            3. Analyst*

              IMO, nobody cusses like a pregnant woman, and nobody appreciates a stiff drink like a new parent.

                1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                  I appreciate you pointing that out; I really don’t think I realized that I was doing that. Apologies!

            4. Tea*

              Your feelings and discomfort and assumptions about pregnant women going about their lives and working at their jobs are your own. If you feel uncomfortable striking up a conversation with a pregnant woman or treating her like any other server because my god, a fetus might hear a curse word, and she’s now a Mother with completely different values, that’s your prerogative, and you are free to take your business elsewhere. But I’m going to be honest, I’m not seeing this as being any different from any other kind of discrimination rife with assumptions about another group, and you feeling uncomfortable with a bartender because they wear a turban, or are black, or transgender.

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                I think you are right, and I didn’t see it that way. I didn’t mean for my points to come across like I was unequivocally right; I really wanted someone to argue logically why that was wrong.

                And, it’s not that I’m uncomfortable cussing around pregnant women, it’s that, in general, cussing isn’t family friendly, and a woman who is a bartender can’t just get a different job when she becomes pregnant. Bars in general are not family friendly; that was what I was arguing, and that’s the angle I’m coming from – absolutely not trying to discriminate against anyone.

                1. Tea*

                  First off, thank you for coming back around and addressing people’s responses to your post! My sense was that you were trying to explain the personal sense of unease you had re: pregnant women in the bar scene, and while you can feel however you want about any person serving at any bar, I think there are some troubling implications of automatically equating a pregnant woman as Mother, and now a Family Unit that are really worth examining.

                2. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                  @ Tea : Yup, I think I did make that mistake; getting lost in my own biases. It’s not easy to bring up something you know might not go over well; it’s also not easy to acknowledge when you are pretty wrong about it ( : ) )!
                  I think that’s a really interesting point you made here : “I think there are some troubling implications of automatically equating a pregnant woman as Mother, and now a Family Unit that are really worth examining.” I’ll be taking those considerations into perspective with the weight of all your responding comments, as I consider this issue in the future.

                  & thanks! From the bottom of my heart, I swear I’m capable of acknowledging when I’ve made a mistake, and that I never meant any offense.

            5. One of the Sarahs*

              I’m British, so maybe there are cultural implications I’m getting, but the idea of discomfort at a pregnant woman serving alcohol is absolutely *baffling*, and I can’t wrap my head around the idea of being worried about swearing in front of a pregnant stomach in any way at all.

              I have had friends who were pregnant while working as front-line social workers and paramedics, and there are pregnant police officers, doctors, journalists etc etc etc – so while I’ve never been pregnant, I feel 100% certain that pregnant women can cope with hearing swearing and bar-talk while carrying a baby!

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                That’s interesting! In the States there tends to be a focus on PC-ness (which I somewhat rudely ignored in my initial post; honestly for the sake of argument, which didn’t go so well.) and family-friendliess. Ironic that my initial post was coming from the angle of it being troublesome to have to go out of my way to not offend a mother while I’m at a bar, which I don’t feel is a particularly family-friendly place to be so I shouldn’t be having to keep watch for that, & I ended up offending a bunch of other people anyway.
                Lesson learned.

            6. Koko*

              I do not have any hangups about drinking around mothers or expecting mothers. My own mom is one of my favorite people to drink with.

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                I wish mine was.
                And I guess I wish I didn’t have those hangups, but I do.
                There’s also the issue of the bartender not being able to taste my drink; that kind of sucks for me. Of course a pregnant lady could imbibe the tiniest bit, but you’re expecting customers to be okay with watching that. Sorry, but watching a pregnant lady taste my drink (and hundreds of others all night) would make me uncomfortable. A lady not being able to taste my drink because she’s pregnant is partly her not being able to do her job.
                Arg, I’m sorry, I’m an arguer. Regardless of my point, I am sorry if you were also offended.

            7. Chameleon*

              “Example: I’m going to feel weird about cussing a lot/talking about certain subjects around a very pregnant person. Why? Because most people aren’t comfortable with strangers cussing around their kids, or talking about inappropriate things; my logic is, even if the pregnant lady herself is a cusser, it’s hitting her why people think that stuff is a bad influence when she hears those around her so it so insensitively. Bam – no bonding with my bartender, no building a relationship there. Her values are no longer akin to mine, even if they were; she is now a Mother.”

              Okay, that’s…super weird. Pregnancy doesn’t cause people to suddenly become pearl-clutching angels. The baby can’t hear you cuss, nor would it understand if it did. She isn’t suddenly A Mother, she’s just some woman who will have a kid soon.

              I say this as someone who has a small child, and who drinks and curses around her all the damn time. (Seriously, I really need to start cutting that down because she’s at the age she might start repeating me and I dread the day she shouts the F-word at the grocery store. It *will* happen, I guarantee.)

              (And how do you know your current non-pregnant bartender isn’t already A Mother, anyway? Or A Father for that matter? The more I think about this, the weirder it is.)

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                Because if you’re already a mother/father, you leave the thing at home.
                It’s weird to me for it to be IN the bar. IN you, while you’re serving me alcohol.

                Regardess, these are my hangups. I just wanted to hear others’ points of view on it, and now I have.
                Apologies, that it wasn’t the best hill to die on, and especially sorry if you or anyone else was offended.

              2. NoPantsFridays*

                Yeah… I can say this is probably about how 99% of people feel about swearing around pregnant women or mothers. People swear all the time at my office *while on the job* and almost all my coworkers (both women and men) are parents, some are grandparents. I also don’t see swearing in front of a pregnant woman as swearing in front of her child, that’s weird. If a friend asked me not to swear in front of her young child, sure, I would hold back. But I’ve literally never heard of this particular hangup about swearing in front of pregnant women. I think “Oh, I’ll Answer The Phones”is really unusual here. (No offense)

            8. Kyrielle*

              Huh? I was the same person when pregnant as when not pregnant, with the same values. There are surely some discussions I won’t have around my young children, but when still unborn, that was so completely f***ing not a concern (had to, sorry). I mean, until they start really working on language, it’s not like I’m worried they’ll repeat it.

              When I was pregnant and at work, I wasn’t thinking “ohmigod, what is this doing to my baby?” I was thinking about *work*. (Certainly if it had been something with a potential impact on the baby, such as not being able to take care of myself enough due to job demands, or dangerous chemicals, I’d have considered that. But no matter how salty it is, the language out of your mouth is not a dangerous chemical. Like, ever.)

              There’s nothing wrong with *drinking* a glass of wine occasionally during pregnancy; *serving* it sure as heck isn’t going to be harmful. Why shouldn’t she?

              I acknowledge how you’d feel and that you might leave, but your attitude and feelings in this regard strike me as rather bizarre, and hopefully unusual.

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                I really do appreciate you pointing out that I’m definitely not in the majority on this one (at least not in current company). Honestly, I really do. I acknowledge that I made a risky assumption, for argument’s sake. To those of you who answered (though I’m sorry I had to offend you in order for you to do so!) I am very grateful that you took the time to do so.
                And not everyone will agree with you on that drinking occasionally during pregnancy is NEVER harmless. People are built differently, and you never really know what will happen. Besides, what if the pregnant person is a recovering addict? A little, sure, but not everyone can handle a little.

                I realize I’m arguing something slightly different now, but to me they are connected. I don’t care if someone I know who is pregnant is having a glass of wine, around me or not around me. But I’m not comfortable with a pregnant stranger drinking around me, because I don’t know them well enough to know that this is not a potential issue. For that reason, personally I’m not comfortable with a pregnant stranger serving me alcohol, either. It’s hard to back that up, it’s just how I feel.
                If I’m not intentionally going somewhere family-friendly, I don’t want to have to curtail my behavior; I especially don’t want this if I’m going somewhere I explicitly consider NOT family friendly. People get drunk at bars; they can become rude and clumsy – neither of those would I recommend an expecting person to be around.

                It sucks, considering that my entire angle is geared toward not hurting/offending the pregnant person, and I don’t think that came across. The reason it would suck for me to be in this situation where I feel uncomfortable, is *only* because I’m worried about the person’s wellbeing. Obviously, that worry is misplaced, and again, I really appreciate those of you who have a different stance pointing that out.

                1. Observer*

                  Your concern is infantilizing and very odd. Also a bit self centered. All of the evidence shows that small amounts of alcohol really are not a problem for a pregnancy. Why would you be worrying about things like the person might be “possibly a recovering addict” when that person is pregnant, and not otherwise? The potential effects can be equally devastating.

                  You are so hung up about the possibility that someone you don’t know anything about might actually be harming themselves just because they are pregnant that you that you totally ignore the fact that these strangers are adults and it’s none of your business to be “comfortable” or not about it. Your next step of imposing your hangups doesn’t even work with the logic of emotions, though. I mean we’ve heard so much about the harm of alcohol that I can see the idea of it looking bad when a pregnant woman drinks, even when it’s not a problem. But, how do you get from there to not being allowed to even TOUCH (ie serve) alcohol.

                  What’s worse, though, is your apparent contention that this concern, which is supposedly for the welfare of the pregnant person, should be a legitimate reason for actually constraining that person’s behavior, and even their job. You’ve got an utterly irrational hang up, and really want someone to not hire / fire someone because of the kind of hang up?

                  It’s a good thing that that kind thing is illegal, because it’s not moral.

                2. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                  @ Observer. I think you’re reading into what you want to hear in this case, which is that I am awful, and hate pregnant women/think they are incapable of handling themselves around alcohol – the first may be true (that I am awful – who knows?), the second is not. I already said I am not interested in taking this argument further. Thank you for telling me how you feel, I don’t see the benefit of explaining myself further on this issue.
                  I tried to explain myself, and apparently it made it worse. So, thanks for helping drive that point in just a little more.

            9. Observer*

              I just don’t even know where to start, even having read all of the very cogent responses. I suppose I’ll start with the one thing that no one explicitly mentioned, which is that you assumption that any pregnant woman is going to be less pleasant, courteous, friendly and effective than her non-pregnant counterparts is just jaw dropping. Oscar the Grouch wasn’t pregnant, nor was he modeled after a pregnant woman. What do you think mothers with multiple children do? Hire nannies to take care of the other children throughout every pregnancy? Or that all of these older siblings are scarred from their mothers’ inability to behave like reasonable human being during their pregnancies?

              The whole bit about her being A Mother sounds like a caricature, to be honest. Do you really think that women suddenly become shrinking violets the minute they become mothers? You think they suddenly forgto where babies come from? Also, what makes you think that the only Mothers among your bar tenders are the pregnant women? And, why don’t you worry about Fathers? Are you suggesting that somehow men only become fathers and their values and priorities are not affected. Men are studs and women are Matriarch?

              It’s a good thing that it is just not legal to take this kind of thing into consideration.

              1. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

                I think you are right about my assumption being off-base.
                My experiences are not necessarily those of others’; I was just arguing for argument’s sake. I genuinely wanted other opinions, and I got them (though kind of a lot of them saying the same thing… However, I can’t complain; maybe it needed to be said that many times.).

                I agree with you that the legality aspect might be the only thing keeping this in check. I do appreciate that this is not the way it should be, and that there are legal forces that can keep people from being discriminated against for this.

                But there also shouldn’t be all the stuff that can go wrong with a pregnancy, based on external influences that apply, and I don’t think being in a bar (even for work) while expecting is necessarily the best thing you could do. But work is necessary (for most), so I don’t have any problem with them working – just in such a place that I consider so *explicitly* non-family-friendly, it sucks for those who are uncomfortable with it to have to be around it.

                For the record, I would like to clarify once more : there are many opinions/reasons why some people would find it inappropriate – maybe for religious reasons (like drinking is wrong period, compounded by exposing an unborn child to the sins found at a bar – you don’t have to agree with those reasons, but some people will feel that way), maybe for sexist reasons, maybe well-founded, some maybe not so much – HOWEVER, the right of any person to work wherever they are able should not be impeded by any of those reasons, no matter their magnitude or if the majority doesn’t feel that way. I would fight for the right of a pregnant person to keep their job at a bar, because it’s what I believe is right; but I would take my business elsewhere, because it’s what I choose to be comfortable with. If there are others who share that opinion (obviously less than I thought), if in significant enough numbers, that would show up in the bar’s income. It sucks, but people get to choose these things.

                One last time, I really hope that what I’ve clarified here helps ease some of the offense; if not, I won’t be going further with this point here, trust me! Apologies to all, and to all a good night.
                And one last thanks, to those who were kind enough to respond – I took everything you all said into consideration, and I’m grateful to you for sharing.

            10. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.*

              Well, you guys are right. I guess I was asking if anyone else felt the same way – now I know they don’t.

              I do want to make clear that I don’t think it’s wrong for a pregnant woman to serve alcohol; just that that’s the nature of the business is to be tipped based on how comfortable the server makes you, and that some people might be uncomfortable with it. I didn’t really see it as the same thing as making a similar decision based on race/etc, but now I know I was off-base on my assumption.

              To sum up, it was my opinion, and now I know it was a little too close to inappropriate. I truly apologize if anyone was offended. I was more trying to say how this (can be) a sad reality, and what do you guys think about this? Either I couldn’t explain my point, or I did and was very wrong. Either way, I apologize, guys/gals/everybody.

              1. Laura*

                Oh no, they do. Lots of women do. I thought you were extremely and accurately honest and completely right and so do several of my female friends. I have no interest in seeing a heavily pregnant woman pour my drinks till late and I agree, many people would change bar fast.

    2. Erin*

      That’s a great thought, but one I assume the OP would have thought of before she wrote in. I assume we’re working under the assumption that paid time off for this woman is completely impossible.

  22. Case of the Mondays*

    Post number one brings up an issue I have thought about before. Employers in my state have a duty to have a safety committee and minimize risks of occupational injury (workers comp). Sometimes an employee’s medical condition puts them at greater risk of occupational injury. At what point does the duty to prevent said injury allow the employer to set conditions that could arguably treat one with a disability differently? For example, if Joe with the balance issues and the cane falls down the stairs then the employer has a comp case. They can put Joe’s office on the first floor to avoid him having to use the stairs. (This employer doesn’t have an elevator and they are grandfathered from that requirement.)

    I believe injuries to a fetus are still considered occupational injuries. If your child gets brain damage from the chemicals you worked in in utero, I believe you can still file a comp claim but I’m not positive. How does the employer balance these?

    For OP #1, if Trudy’s dehydration was caused by work, its a reportable occupational injury. Would the safety committee then have a duty to make changes to prevent Trudy from becoming dehydrated again? What if Trudy didn’t want those changes?

    1. Ineloquent*

      Well, I know that when I worked for a nuclear laboratory, pregnant women couldn’t be forced to leave jobs handling radioactive materials… so it’s really all about what they’re comfortable with, I guess. They could certainly self select out (and many did), so I guess it’s all about making sure that your employees are informed of the risks associated with the work they are doing when you have the possibility of unintentional discrimination in the name of safety and health. I’m not a lawyer.

    2. V.V.*

      “I believe injuries to a fetus are still considered occupational injuries. If your child gets brain damage from the chemicals you worked in in utero, I believe you can still file a comp claim but I’m not positive. How does the employer balance these?”

      I am late to this party but I was wondering the same things.

  23. Navy Vet*

    It’s good you care for your employee and want her to have a safe pregnancy and healthy baby. But as many others have pointed out, you need to let her make her own health choices.

    Most jobs in the US (White collar, Blue collar, Service industry) have zero paid maternity/paternity leave. If you qualify you *might* get to take FMLA and get a disability check after giving birth. So, keep in mind your employee is constantly gauging cost vs risk. Pregnancy is expensive. Child birth is expensive. And she may be saving any paid leave she does get for after she has her baby. The sad fact is an alarming amount of women end up having to go to work right after giving birth. And some of us (me) have decided not to have children because we will not get paid leave and literally can not afford the cost of time missed from work. Also keep in mind she may be trying to not be seen as a burden and may not feel comfortable asking for accommodations. I suggest you let her know what accommodations can be made. A stool, water at her work station, frequent bathroom breaks. Have a discussion and ask her what she needs, and if she says nothing leave it alone and keep it open for her to come to you if she needs anything changed as her pregnancy progresses.

  24. Chickaletta*

    #3 – Are you operating as an LLC? If not, you should definitely consider it for these types of things. If you work under an LLC then you can only be sued for assets owned by the LLC and not your personal assets. I set up my graphic design freelance business as an LLC, and although I don’t expect to be sued in a million years it does happen. At least I know my house and personal accounts are untouchable, and the balance I keep in my business checking is small.

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