when should I tell my interviewer I’m pregnant?

A reader writes:

Last month, I began an interview process for a job that would almost double my current salary. I have 10 years of experience in my field, but my current employer’s salaries are not competitive and I don’t see a clear path for advancement. This new position would be a promotion in title and come with the ability to manage a small team and build a program. This seems like the opportunity of a lifetime to leap up the career ladder, and would alleviate many of my family’s financial constraints at the same time.

Two weeks into the interview process, I discovered I was pregnant. I have not told the recruiting firm nor the potential employer. Now a finalist, I will be flying in to do an on-site visit next week since the position is in a different state (and would require my family to sell our house and move to a new city).

I am aware that the employer will likely be disappointed to find out I’m expecting. They want someone to “hit the ground running” in the role, which has been vacant for several months. I know that legally I am entitled to proceed with the process, and that sharing my pregnancy at this point in the process will likely lead them to choose another candidate, though they won’t necessarily say that explicitly. I am willing to risk their temporary disappointment for the long-term benefits of this opportunity.

I should also note that I am almost 40 years old and while my partner and I were trying to get pregnant, we didn’t expect it to happen without fertility assistance, which we were beginning to explore with a specialist. We desperately want to have this child. We have miscarried in the past, and so I am also cautious about sharing this news too early, knowing that these early weeks are extremely uncertain.

I am aware that if I take maternity leave soon after being hired at a new company, I will not be covered by FMLA, per their benefits policies. I have also read that it might be advantageous to share the pregnancy news at the negotiation part of the offer process, in order to negotiate for some paid maternity leave. I have also read the opposite, with advice saying to never share the pregnancy news until the offer is in writing and signed by all parties.

My plan is to proceed with the interview process as though I were not pregnant. If I am selected for the position, when should I reveal my pregnancy? Do you think it’s ethical to pursue an ambitious job while pregnant? Do you think it’s possible to navigate a new position with a new baby?

First and foremost: You are absolutely entitled to pursue a new job while you’re pregnant, and you are not required to disclose your pregnancy at any point of the interview process.

That protection is enshrined in federal law — specifically in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal to treat a job applicant unfavorably because of pregnancy. It prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy not only in hiring but also in firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, benefits (like leave and health insurance), and “any other term or condition of employment.” The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant applicants and employees.

The reason we have that law is because discrimination against pregnant people is common. Employers may prefer not to deal with you taking maternity leave or potentially using sick leave after that to care for a baby. And, importantly, like other forms of discrimination, much of this bias happens unconsciously. An interviewer might truly think of themselves as family-friendly and supportive of women and still blanch at hearing that a job candidate will need to take a few months of leave soon after starting — and could hold that against you when considering your candidacy, deliberately or not.

Once you have a job offer, though, it usually does make sense to disclose the pregnancy so you can try to negotiate for whatever amount of maternity leave you’re hoping for (especially since, as you point out, FMLA won’t apply until you’ve worked there for a year). At that point the employer can’t legally rescind the offer over the news, and you can have a more open discussion about your plans and what you’ll need.

A lot of people in your shoes worry about the relationship side of this, thinking, for example, Sure, I’m legally entitled not to share the news earlier, but won’t the hiring manager feel deceived if I don’t tell them until I’ve been offered the job? Do I want to start off the relationship that way?

Instead, look at it this way: You’re actually doing employers a favor by not disclosing your pregnancy until you have an offer. They can’t legally consider the information, so it’s better for everyone if they simply don’t have it. That way it can’t unconsciously influence them and, if you don’t get the job, you aren’t left wondering if it’s because you were pregnant (and they won’t have to worry that you’ll be wondering that). If an employer resents that you didn’t tell them earlier, what they’re really saying is that they wanted the opportunity to factor that information into their thinking earlier — i.e., that they might have chosen to break the law and not hire you because of it. It’s also not a great sign about what they’ll be like to work for if they expect pregnant candidates to make themselves vulnerable to legal discrimination just to benefit the company.

Your other question was whether it’s possible to navigate a new job with a new baby. It’s certainly possible; many people do it. Whether it makes sense for you is a different question. Some people do choose to stay in less-than-ideal jobs when they’re pregnant or have a new baby, figuring that both things will be easier to navigate while working somewhere familiar — and somewhere where they themselves are a known quantity (because when people already know you and your work, they can be more willing to give you grace when you’re stretched thin, not getting enough sleep, and/or needing more time off). You also might be entitled to benefits at your current company that you wouldn’t qualify for immediately at a new one. Other people decide the trade-offs in switching jobs are worth it. You’ll need to balance all the factors in play: the benefits of the old job versus the new and how much flexibility you get at your current job versus your sense of what you’ll get at the new one, as well as how an increased salary might smooth out any imbalance there, like by enabling you to hire extra help.

Ultimately, you get to do what’s best for you. You’re not obligated, legally or ethically, to disclose a pregnancy during the hiring process until you decide it would serve your interests to do so.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 224 comments… read them below }

  1. All In*

    I did decide to switch companies very early in my pregnancy (I also previously had a miscarriage). I only brought it up once I had a job offer. I feel like all of Alison’s considerations are everything I went through with my partner when deciding. The piece I never knew, and not sure if anyone here does – interviewing while pregnant is legally protected. But FMLA doesn’t kick in for a year. Could a company fire you during your maternity leave, since it’s not FMLA covered? That was my biggest worry (well, that and the fact I live in a state with no short-term disability, so I did not get paid).

    OP – other considerations – my bonus was pro-rated because I was unpaid for 3 months. I chose to leave a company with great parental leave policy for one that’s non-existent (company headquarters are in CA, so most people qualified for state parental leave, but as mentioned above, I don’t live in a state with STD). I now have an almost 2-year old, and I think the move was the right decision. It is a hard one to make, especially so early in the pregnancy.

    1. One HR Opinion*

      “Could a company fire you during your maternity leave, since it’s not FMLA covered? ”

      Generally no, they can’t but they can limit your time off for less than the FMLA time. It is very common for someone not protected by FMLA to be limited to 8 weeks of leave for a C-Section and 6 weeks for vaginal delivery.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        I don’t think you are correct. The whole point of FMLA is that your job is protected. If you are not eligible for FMLA, your job is not protected and therefore you can be let go.

        1. Runner up*

          There would almost certainly be protection under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act – but I agree that they can limit your time off to the time you’re disabled, per your doctor.

        2. DinoGirl*

          Companies fire people illegally all the time, but it would probably be discriminatory to try to pull this. Now with the PWFA there’s likely an ADA component to protect leaves.

        3. Also-ADHD*

          You’re still protected by other laws, in the case of pregnancy (both specifically law relating to pregnancy and medical disability law).

          1. Also-ADHD*

            Bonding time would not be protected, but recovery would, I wanted to add, which is where the poster gets the weeks.

  2. bamcheeks*

    Do you think it’s possible to navigate a new position with a new baby?

    Honestly, put this in the bucket called “entirely unknowable, there is simply no point in allowing it to affect your thinking”. It depends on a ton of things you can control or at least know in advance, ish, like having a partner who can be the primary parent or local family or enough money to hire full-time paid care, and a ton of things you can’t, like your health, your baby’s health, what pregnancy and new parenthood does to your brain, maybe what it does to your priorities, what exactly the new job requires, and various other factors that are just wildly unpredictable. So there is just no point in worrying about it too much! If you are reasonably confident you can get the childcare part worked out, 100% go for it, and if stuff happens that makes it harder or not worth it after all, change your plans. But don’t deny yourself the opportunity in advance.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      Came here to say this! Babies are all very different from each other! It’ll definitely be hard. But will it be hardER than doing it with a toddler, preschooler, kid in school? Too many factors at play here to let it influence you.

        1. Clisby*

          One of my neighbors in Atlanta said, “You’re exhausted by #1. By the time you get to #2, you’re so used to it you don’t even notice.”

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yup, and it’s 100% why my kids are relatively close in age – figured we get it all over with at once. Baby #2 slept through the night before Baby #1 did (timeline, not age). My older one simply does not require regulation amounts of sleep – their gem of a daycare provider said she’d never seen a kid that small sleep so little.

          2. Ash*

            I disagree completely. Going from one to two kids has been the most tiring experience of my life.

          3. Teaching teacher*

            I had to go to physical therapy after giving birth the first time and the therapist who had three kids told me she hadn’t had a full night sleep on any sort of regular basis in two years, and I remember thinking that I would die, there is no way I could handle that. and now… yeah, not a lot of sleep but you get used to it.

        2. Ellie*

          For me it was my first who was only waking up once during the night from about six weeks, and my second who was demand feeding at 45 minute intervals around the clock from 3 to 9 months, as well as suffering from colic. We called her our little hellcat. Honestly though, with either child, the fact that I had been in the same role for years and knew how to perform it backwards helped me enormously during the transition back to work. I only took 6 months off with my first, and 5 with my second, I don’t know how that would have gone if I’d been in a new role. There would have definitely been a drop in performance.

          On the other hand, if you’re a high performer, it may not be a problem, even in a new role. You need to take a more long term view of the position. I’ve never resented anyone for taking leave who have then gone on to spend years with the company. I admit I’m slightly annoyed when they move on as soon as they start getting the hang of it, although I understand that is still their right to do. If it’s a good long-term move for you, then I say go for it.

    2. Stretchy McGillicuddy*

      Even if you stay at the same company you may find yourself navigating a new role with a new baby!

      My entire department reorged when I was on maternity leave. I came back to a new boss, a mostly new team, and an entirely new set of deliverables.

      Stuff happens. I know people who have been promoted, transferred, re-orged and laid off while on leave.

    3. Double A*

      Also, I found out when my baby was 4 months old my job would be eliminated! Unplanned job hunting while dealing with a very young baby sucked but I had to do it, and I did it and it’s fine now. So like, you truly never know.

    4. KitKat*

      This is true (and as a new mom, I heartily endorse that you can’t know what will happen to your brain and priorities!) but you can also evaluate what you know about yourself.

      For example, personally I find it very stressful to operate in a situation where I haven’t yet built much trust/respect/track record for my work – I’m a high performer, but meetings and projects carry some extra anxiety when I feel like I’m “proving myself”. So that would have me very hesitant to start a new job later in pregnancy, knowing I’d still be “new” when I returned from leave and likely sleep deprived on top of it. I’d personally compare that against the current job (and the particular stressors, schedule, environment, etc.) and try to guess which one would go better for me while navigating a major, unpredictable life shift.

  3. Stuart Foote*

    I would absolutely, 100% NOT disclose a pregnancy until the offer is accepted. After that, maybe work on negotiating maternity leave (makes sense for the company if they want to make it a good long-term relationship). But if you disclose before you likely won’t get the job and proving discrimination would be tough, and even if you could it might not be worth the trouble.

    And yes, I don’t see any possible reason it wouldn’t be ethical to pursue a new job when pregnant–pregnancy is part of the human condition. Plus for all you know the other candidates for the job might have a chronic health condition or urgent family emergency or any number of factors that could require them to take time off shortly after starting, even if they don’t know it yet. If the role is a good fit a couple of months off at the beginning will be small potatoes in the long run.

    1. ecnaseener*

      The problem is, after the offer is accepted, negotiations are over. It’s not a negotiation at that point, it’s a request, just like it would be a request if you waited until after starting. The time to negotiate is when you can say “I would love to accept your offer if you can do…”

      1. Stuart Foote*

        Agreed, but if the options are “great job with double the salary but no maternity leave” vs “no job offer at all”, I know what I would take. (Unless the LW thought the new company would not have an issue with the pregnancy, which unfortunately seems like it would).

        1. ecnaseener*

          “No job offer at all” is highly unlikely if you wait until the offer has been made. No legal counsel is going to let their client pull an offer for such a blatantly illegal reason. Unless the company is really really full of bees, in which case good thing you found out before accepting the offer!

          1. Insider perspective*

            No legal counsel is going to let their client pull an offer for such a blatantly illegal reason.

            You assume that companies always follow advice offered by legal counsel.

            They don’t.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      The only time the jobseeker holds the power is between when the offer is extended and when it’s accepted. They want to hire you! That is the time to negotiate. They may say “no” to a request, but unless it’s truly egregious they aren’t likely to withdraw the offer altogether.

      1. No Longer Looking*

        Agreed – just be VERY careful with your wording. You don’t want to accidentally include phrasing that allows them to interpret your negotiation as a “refusal unless.”

        1. Reader*

          That’s a really valuable caution, and I am surprised that I don’t hear it mentioned often.

  4. E*

    A new baby is hard. A new job, new house, new state, and new baby would be way too much for me personally to handle. Not to discourage a career change, but make sure you have a good support system in place before taking on that many changes at once so it doesn’t get overwhelming. Good luck! :)

    1. E-too*

      My situation was a bit different but I moved to a new state and started a new job within two weeks of having my first baby. It was extremely traumatic, to be honest. I don’t recommend it unless you have no other options

    2. Beth*

      It’s a lot to handle…but for me (and I suspect many of us), the lure of doubling my salary would make me consider a lot of otherwise impossibly-hard things! OP, if you decide this isn’t the right time for you to make a big move, that would be entirely fair. But a sudden jump in income can buy a lot of support that would otherwise be work you and your partner have to do.

    3. bamcheeks*

      I did new house and new city with baby #1, and new job with baby #2! Not both at the same time and the job wasn’t a massive step up from my previous job. To be honest I found both pretty fine— the hardest part was having to make new social connections as a brand new parent. I don’t think I really found Real Friends until my elder daughter was three or four and we started connecting with her friends’ parents. (My daughters have both picked cooler and more lasting families to be friends with than we did when were in the brand-new-baby stage!) But none of my friends back in Old City had kids, so even if we hadn’t moved our social lives would have changed massively anyway.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Talk about “wow. Does not grasp that he’s why its legal to not disclose.”!

      2. Noncompliance Specialist*

        I need a decontamination shower after reading that post and some of the comments.

    1. MisterForkbeard*

      Oh, I totally get the manager being frustrated about it. That is, in fact, a shitty experience for the manager – he’s trying to get the team relief and he hired this person because they can do that near immediately and for the long term. And then he finds out there’s going to be a large gap in that coverage. This does suck for him – he’s not going to accomplish one of his key goals for a couple of months.

      But what she did is legal and also ethical. Same for OP here. The pregnant woman isn’t under an obligation to inform the new company and she shouldn’t. Especially if she’s really early on. It doesn’t speak well OR poorly of her that she didn’t tell her new boss until after the offer – it was just the right thing to do.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        That manager is frustrated in the wrong direction though. Instead of being mad about a new hire being pregnant, he should be mad at his management team for understaffing.

        1. Quinalla*

          Yup, he’s directing his frustration at an employee using benefits the company offers. If the company doesn’t work out some kind of coverage during leaves, he should be mad at them! HR should have made it clear that not only is what she did legal it is also ethical because it prevented him from being biased about her pregnancy which is unethical and illegal!!

          I think far too many men have never had to really think about this until they have a pregnant employee, even if they have children with a wife/partner, they don’t always get it. And to them it’s just a hassle – they don’t understand why it is SO IMPORTANT that pregnancy is protected so strongly and just how much just this one thing has affect women’s ability to get jobs, to be paid fairly, etc. in the past and now.

          1. Also-ADHD*

            Pretty sure that OP/manager also made an anti-choice comment (suggesting on a long list of things that are legal that immoral that abortion is immoral, mixing up personal morality with actual ethics—it’s fine to disagree with morality personally and how you would act, though that’s why I think men don’t get huge say on some topics related to pregnancy from a woman’s experience, just like I don’t get a huge say on how men feel about circumcision being commonplace in the US).

        2. Pobblespot*

          But the new hire is to fix the understaffed problem. Management approved a new position then the candidate was unable to work. I’m not saying it’s the candidates fault but what else is management meant to do?

          1. Beth*

            1) Staff so the team is at full capacity even when one or two people are out of office. Lean staffing makes for fragile businesses–having some give is good!

            2) Hire a temp when someone is out on extended leave. They may not be able to 100% replace the person, especially for higher-level work that requires more training, experience, security access, etc to do. But they can help keep the basics running.

            3) Adjust workloads to match current capacity. Push back project C until the OOO staff member returns so the team can focus on higher-priority projects A and B. Wrap up the staff member’s current project instead of considering nice-to-have add-ons. Direct the team to focus on client deliverables over internal projects for the interim. Whatever is applicable for the team.

            There are ways companies can manage this. They cost money and/or lower output, and a management team that’s focused on maximizing profits over sustainability might find that hard to swallow. But this is a normal part of doing business–if management is counting on a given level of productivity at a given cost and isn’t factoring this kind of thing in, that’s ultimately a failure of planning on their part.

          2. Anonymous Koala*

            In an adequately staffed team, everyone is doing about 40 hours of work. Unless this is an incredibly small team, one person being gone might increase everyone else’s work by an extra 5-10 hours – not unmanageable for the short maternity leaves typically offered in the US (12 weeks is considered generous). If the team’s workload is so impossible that losing even one person makes it impossible to meet deadlines, (and in the link they talk about 70-80 hour weeks) then one new hire was never going to be the answer to that manager’s problems and they’re misdirecting their frustration. The real problem is upper management providing inadequate support.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              100%! What if one of his team was diagnosed with cancer and had to take a few months off for treatment? Is he going to be mad at them for getting sick (probably, TBH)? Or should he be in management’s office saying “the workload is unsustainable at our staffing level, and if someone is sick or wants to be off, it increases the workload even more. We can’t continue this way.”

              1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

                This dude would probably straight-up fire the cancer patient to hire someone else. And explain at great lengths that it really wasn’t because they had cancer but because they had the bad luck to need treatment during the busy season.

              2. RainingRubies*

                Exactly! I was hit by a car when biking to work a while back, and was (luckily, only) out for 8 weeks on short term disability – my sister’s maternity leave was only 6 weeks! Thankfully my work had adequate staffing and good project management that no one had to work extra hours during that time.

          3. J!*

            Have a large enough team so that one person being out isn’t a catastrophe. It sounds like this hire was a step in the right direction but still not enough to have redundancy.

          4. Also-ADHD*

            Not have 70 hour weeks in the first place? Arrange coverage during leaves? Prioritize so some projects are pushed? The business sounds poorly run, frankly. They are large enough in start up phase to have HR and a day 1 maternity policy, as part of benefits, OP’s salary sounds ridiculous (perhaps that’s total comp and he’s working his team too hard to hit bonus goals?) for their funding and understaffing and his role in this. The organizational dysfunction is pretty clear and these issues become more nonissue when you build sustainability into your model to any degree. Startups can be tough, but this situation sounds dumb and the result of middle management not managing expectations at all. If this were a really tiny company, HR wouldn’t have advised OP as they did and they wouldn’t be subjected to some parts of the law, but they also probably wouldn’t have a formal day 1 maternity leave policy, which is what’s protecting this employee for such a long leave. (Some disability leave is protected even without FMLA but not paid and much shorter.)

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          This. I would be irritated at the circumstances because having a months-long gap in a new hire’s first six months would be a real challenge in my industry since projects tend to require a lot institutional knowledge and many team members are that fungible for a variety of reasons (knowledge, client relationships, charge-through restrictions, etc.). Double-so if I’m already understaffed and have people regularly working 70(!) hours weeks.

          But this is entirely management’s issue – it’s great that they offer family leave benefits (which should really be standard), but part of having that benefit is covering the hole during the absence. Allowing staffing to get this low and then not offering any sort of temporarily relief is terrible management. If the situation is that dire, you either hire or get down in the trenches with your team and provide some relief.

        4. Liz*

          I don’t know that he has to be mad at anyone. To quote Dwight Schrute, “not everything is a lesson, sometimes you just fail.” A couple of years ago I went from fully staffed to less than half-staffed in just a couple of months because of a planned retirement coinciding with a (much earlier than expected) maternity leave and a couple of medical/bereavement leaves. Sometimes it happens that way despite everyone’s best efforts. It sucks, but it’s not anyone’s fault, just something you have to work through (hopefully not with too much resentment).

    2. jasmine*

      People are awful about pregnant people needing accommodations or leeway. I used to be surprised but not anymore

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*


        It was easier waddling around an active construction site while pregnant (I was in a field support role) than it was being in an office environment. The guys I worked with in the field may have been a tad overprotective of me and my baby, but it was at least with good intentions and a good heart, every bit of it. In the office? I needed to stand up during a meeting because my hips were killing me? Oh no, that was a distraction.

    3. Dasein9 (he/him)*

      Yeesh! Yeah, he’s mad at the wrong person. Any member of his team could have been out for a dozen weeks for any number of reasons. If the team is so understaffed that one person being out is this big a burden, the fault lies with management.

    4. Tesuji*


      As a society, we claim that we want to support pregnant women working, but have decided that all the costs of that support should be borne by whatever companies happened to hire a pregnant worker.

      A company may claim that it supports pregnant women, but at least in the US, that’s almost certainly going to mean that other employees end up actually bearing the cost of that support by doing more unpaid work.

      Support for a particular category of employee isn’t an isolated element; it’s a part of a whole.

      Make it so maternity leave is paid for by society as a whole and give us robust workers’ rights, and I think a lot of this goes away. Most people aren’t against pregnant workers, they’re against their own lives being made shittier.

      Make it so that, if society as a whole wants to support pregnant women, that support doesn’t actually mean “So, I guess Joe in the next cubicle over has to do two jobs for the pay of one for the next three months” because if that’s what it means, it’s hard for to blame Joe for not liking that situation one bit.

      1. Orv*

        That happened where I work. An existing employee ended up doing two jobs for the pay of one job when someone went on maternity leave. Our hiring process takes close to six months (and the person on leave would have had to be there to sign off on the new hire!) so hiring someone to temporarily fill in just wasn’t possible.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        With a year’s maternity leave as is common in Europe, it’s long enough to make a sensible plan, whether that be hiring a temp or moving a project timeline back. It’s also impractical – especially in our often unionised workplaces – to ask people to work a few hours extra every week for a damn year.

        However, with the very short US leave, coworkers sucking up the extra work is probably what seems most doable (but very unfair).

        1. amoeba*

          I just gently want to point out – a year’s *parental leave* – at least in most places I’m aware of, certainly in Germany. Which can be taken by either parent or freely divided between the two. The only part that’s exclusively for the person giving birth is the “Mutterschutz” (8 weeks after birth, I believe?)
          Sadly, it’s still much too prevalent in people’s heads that that’s something women do. Men do as well, although not as much as they should, unfortunately…

    5. TheBunny*

      Egads that link is a direct path to a nest of vipers.

      The comment where OP says it’s legal but not ethical…egads.

      OP wouldn’t have hired her had she disclosed which is illegal AND unethical.

      Just wow.

  5. woops*

    do not let them know about the pregnancy until you’re onsite and working with them. i advise waiting as long as possible after your start so you have an opportunity to show your value.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      The 1950s have entered the chat.

      “Show your value”? Nope, you’ve already done that. That’s why you got the job.

      1. anon_sighing*

        I get where you’re coming from, but plenty of duds – pregnant or not, woman-identifying or man-identifying – have gotten the job. Doing the job and interviewing for it are two different games in general.

        LW got the job, that’s the end of the story. Qualified, interviewed, offered, accepted. Doesn’t need to prove anything one way or the other. LW could bring nothing to the job or be the best employee they’ve ever had…they’re always gonna be the person who got it and they have rights & protections as an employee.

      2. WellRed*

        There’s been plenty of letters where the advice talks about how if you are a known quality with a good track record, some things are easier down the road, like unplanned time off (for any reason) or the chance to lead a new initiative. As a newbie, people don’t have anything else to go by.

      3. Insider perspective*

        “Show your value”? Nope, you’ve already done that. That’s why you got the job.

        Setting aside the pregnancy issues, that’s ridiculous. Jobs have probationary periods. Building social capital at companies is a thing. People who turn out to be bad hires are a thing.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Yes, but “being pregnant” does not equal “bad hire”.

          This comment sounds like OP has extra to prove because they’re pregnant, which is utter bullshit.

    2. Aglet*

      I would try to negotiate maternity leave after you get the offer but before you accept it, not wait until you’re on the job. (Just like negotiating pre-planned vacation after the offer but before I accept.)

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      No. This is really terrible advice. You need to read Alison’s response.

      At this point, it’s too late to negotiate any accommodations.

  6. I'm just here for the cats!*

    There is someone I work with who was pregnant when she interviewed and when she was hired negotiated the start time for a few months after she had the baby. Maybe OP can do something similar?

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      The LW is a finalist and newly pregnant (as of sometime in the last couple months, depending when the letter was written). That would put their start date in early/mid 2025… seems like a stretch.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        Especially since the LW notes that the role has been vacant for awhile and they’re anxious to get someone up and running.

      2. Bee*

        Yes, if you’re due next month this is probably a great idea, but if your leave is six months away, I wouldn’t even ask except in very specific, rare circumstances. Six months of “hitting the ground running” is still pretty good!

    2. Varthema*

      The main advice I’d have is to not underestimate the value of being a known quantity, trusted, with capital to spend when you have babies/very young kids – plus the institutional knowledge to be able to be productive without the effort of a learning curve. The sleep deprivation, the RIDICULOUS number of times that baby gets sick when first in care – it’s been essential for me.

      That said, if it’s a huge career/salary boost that’s unlikely to come your way again, or if the place you’re working at is actively BAD for parents or your mental health, that tips the equation. But if your current job is good enough, I’d say it needs to be a pretty amazing and unique opportunity to cancel out the benefits mentioned above.

  7. Katie*

    Is it possible to navigate a new position with a new baby? Yes. After my maternity leave for my twins I started a new position (at the same company but in a very different position). The position was very demanding and extremely stressful. 9 years later, it’s still the most demanding job I have had, but it was possible to do. However, I had my husband

  8. Out of Office*

    Congratulations and good luck OP!

    I think if I had the opportunity to take a job with nearly double pay I’d go for it and save aggressively to compensate for any benefits I don’t qualify for (admittedly I’m from the UK so maybe that’s a crazy idea in a US context).

    Selling a house / moving / buying a new place / starting a new job / having a baby is A LOT of change in a short period of time but if your partner is on board then I think most things work out eventually.

  9. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Something to consider as well – you said you and your partner will be relocating to take this role, should you get it. Does this mean your partner will need to change jobs and potentially be out of work? Or are they fully remote, or work somewhere that they can easily transfer to a location in your new city? If it’s the latter, in theory they’d be entitled to paternity leave which may help alleviate some of your burden in the short term (say, if they are able to take a full 12 weeks, maybe they can time it so it doesn’t overlap with your time, but rather follows it).

    If it’s the former, well, now we are talking potentially the same scenario you are in. Unless your partner is in a scenario where they could time leaving their current employer before you give birth and not start job hunting until a few weeks after – which, again, could give you additional flexibility.

    *For the record, I wish we had better policies in the US that didn’t require all of these hoops, but just thinking about how you could come up with some creative solutions. This is, of course, assuming that your pregnancy is normal and your labor and delivery are uneventful – which, I realize, are not necessarily a given, either.

    1. Festively Dressed Earl*

      Good points. It’s also worth considering where LW’s extended family, friends, and support network are located. (Assuming that they have a support system and that said support is likely to live up to the name.)

      And yeah, LW needs to look at the quality of care available in the area they’d be relocating to. Certain states are losing pregnancy care specialists at a high rate, and the last thing LW needs is to move to a maternity care desert.

      1. Rosemary*

        To be fair, she could currently live in a maternity care desert and the move may be to a place with more/better options. But yes, access to care should be considered, whether it is to stay or go (and it totally sucks that this is even something she needs to worry about!)

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      And I was wondering, since the LW’s salary would be doubled, maybe that would mean their partner could take a little extra time off and be a SAHP for a while. It would help with the transition.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, for sure! I’d definitely only consider it if the partner takes generous parental leave… both parents back to FT after only six weeks or whatever plus new job plus new environment sounds super stressful. No leave at all for the partner would make it so much worse, but partner at home for at least 12 weeks or possibly even more could really help!

    3. Carlie*

      Or, if her salary is doubled, maybe her spouse can be a stay at home parent for awhile – that would alleviate a lot of the extra stress and workload as well.

  10. Katie*

    I started a new position after maternity leave with twins. It was at the same company but in a very different role. The position was insanely demanding and stressful. Having babies made it harder but still doable. HOWEVER, my husband’s job was a lot more flexible than mine and he could handle them when I worked late or they had appointments.

    1. hobbydragon*

      I did this too (also with twins)! But it’s only been a few months, this role isn’t super stressful yet, and my new boss is way more supportive of pumping etc. I would wait until you can’t hide it any more regardless of where you’re working. That being said, more money makes a huge difference. My husband also started a new job at 2 months (start date was set before they were born and could have been pushed back significantly), thinking that would be plenty of time, and in retrospect should have opted to start when babies were 6 months, so if your spouse can swing a gap in employment due to the move, I would definitely recommend it.

  11. Spero*

    You absolutely should not tell them. I became pregnant about 2 weeks before interviewing for my current role, found out the week I interviewed, and started when I was around 6 weeks. I told them after my 90 day probation when I was about 5 months along. Nobody was mad! I didn’t actually have the baby until I’d been there over 7 months – that was PLENTY of time to clean up open things from the time the post was vacant, get a lot of work done, and complete an effective mat leave plan. Frankly it was much easier to do an early on leave because they were used to covering the role – my second leave later on took much more coordinating because they were used to me being there doing the work and had forgotten how to cover it!
    I’d also point out that 3 staff started at the same time as me, one left before I even took my leave and a second left before my second leave. The other who is still here has taken more medical leave for miscellaneous health problems – often with no notice – than I did even with 2 mat leaves. All of those things caused far more business disturbance than a planned for, planned to cover, clear ending time mat leave period.

  12. Poison I.V. drip*

    I hired a woman to fill a position that involved a lot of training and getting up to speed. Then she got pregnant, took all of the leave she was entitled to, spoke like she was intent on returning to work, and then resigned. I hired another woman to replace her, who also got pregnant but fortunately has stayed with us so far. It’s frustrating but part of doing business. If you’re expecting during the application process, I’d appreciate not knowing so I’m not swayed by that knowledge.

    1. samwise*

      “spoke like she was intent on returning to work”

      And she may very well have intended to, and then discovered she couldn’t or didn’t want to.

      1. hobbydragon*

        We had decided if we hadn’t gotten daycare slots by 7-8 months old that I would quit despite my job providing our extremely generous health insurance (luckily we had a rotation of grandparents able to cover for us for several months until we did get slots) but she may have been in a position where she didn’t have a financially viable childcare solution and HAD to quit.

    2. A Poster Has No Name*

      Yes, exactly. You can also end up hiring someone to fill a position like that who gets cancer or their parents get sick or their spouse has to relocate out of state or or or….

      At least with pregnancy there’s usually some warning and time to prepare.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yes. At OldJob we hired an excellent scientist who had a lot of great ideas for projects. 4 months in her husband got a REALLY good offer for a job he really wanted. It was in El Paso TX, the one place he had applied outside of our local area. They moved out to TX and we had to start the hiring process over. Things happen. It’s a part of doing business with human beings.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      A family member of mine took leave maternity leave with full intention of returning to work. She also intended to be a stay at home mom. It took her awhile to realize those weren’t compatible, lol!

      The company wasn’t mad. She was entitled to the leave whether she was returning or not.

  13. CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*

    I’ve been on the receiving end of this as a hiring manager. I would argue that it is ethically questionable to NOT tell the interviewer that you are pregnant. I needed an employee critically for an important role that required them to ramp up and work continuously for several months. Getting the position funded required a lot of political capital and multiple promises about what this person would be able to accomplish specifically in their first six months.

    The person I hired (remotely) was 7.5 months pregnant, and KNEW that she would be taking at least 2 months of leave almost immediately upon hire during a critical period (which I told her was the most critical part of the job). The need to perform these tasks was the main driver for me being able to get funding for this role.

    The fact that she was not able to perform the tasks required of the job, and the fact that she KNEW she would be unable to perform them and did not disclose them seemed highly unethical to me.

    I strongly support parental leave and flexibility. I’m a parent myself, and know the impact. But her actions harmed me and my company, and made life difficult for others. Had she informed me (or better yet, informed me and voluntarily withdrawn, knowing she could not do the job she was being hired for), I would almost certainly have found a way to hire her for my next open role. The way she did this definitely impacted my trust in her integrity.

    1. Bast*

      And this highlights exactly why women don’t say anything. Also, see response above where another employer states that they would prefer NOT to know.

      1. CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*

        I understand your perspective, but in *this specific case*, I was hiring for somebody to do a *specific job* in a specific time frame. This individual knew they could not perform the requirements of the role.

        What would you think, as the hiring manager, of hiring somebody *specifically* to manufacture teapots in the first two months after hiring, and then interviewing with a person who knew for an absolute fact that they would be unable to meet the VERY SPECIFIC requirements of the job, yet not disclosing that? This isn’t just about her.

        Obviously, this person was hired, treated in a fully legal way, was not discriminated against in any way, and was given every single accommodation that she was entitled to. No laws were broken.

        I’m simply saying that her actions, while fully legal, were unethical, and impacted people far beyond herself. If the cause of this person’s intentional lack of disclosure about a fundamental inability to complete the job she was hired for was anything BUT pregnancy? Would you be equally OK with that person negatively impacting others?

        1. jasmine*

          > I understand your perspective, but in *this specific case*, I was hiring for somebody to do a *specific job* in a specific time frame.

          Not really though? Sure, that might have been one of the very important things you wanted done, but if that was truly the only purpose of the role, you would’ve hired a temp or hired someone on a contract. Not a permanent employee.

          If a permanent employee not being around for a few months is truly ridiculously burdensome, then most certainly there’s more going on that’s very wrong.

        2. HungryLawyer*

          “What would you think, as the hiring manager, of hiring somebody *specifically* to manufacture teapots in the first two months after hiring, and then interviewing with a person who knew for an absolute fact that they would be unable to meet the VERY SPECIFIC requirements of the job, yet not disclosing that?” I’d think that employee obviously felt unsafe disclosing a pregnancy and realize that my feelings of “how unfair” should be aimed at my employer for not providing additional personnel support. You’re taking her non-disclosure way too personally. Also, you claim that you didn’t discriminate against her but your obvious bias against pregnant workers suggests otherwise.

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            If you have short-term, VERY SPECIFIC requirements you should consider hiring a contractor. (Or a temp, if you’re in a field that uses them.)

        3. Peanut Hamper*

          Her actions were not unethical. Any time an employee leaves, for whatever reason, other employees are impacted. This is part of the cost of doing business.

          If she won the lottery and left, would you complain that she was being unethical because she didn’t tell you she had bought a lottery ticket? If she broke her leg skiing and ended up being in the hospital would you complain that she was being unethical because she didn’t tell you she was going skiing?

          I think you are experiencing a great deal of bitterness over this (which is understandable) and are looking for reasons to discriminate based on a person’s pregnancy status. I am not questioning your former employee’s ethics, but I am certainly questioning yours, as you don’t seem to understand why this law exists and why potential employees are protected by it.

        4. Jan Levinson Gould*

          Instead of pregnancy, let’s say the new hire had cancer. New hire took the job because they desperately needed the job for health insurance, knowing a month after they started and their insurance kicked in, they were going out for 2 – 3 months for aggressive treatment.

          Castie made it clear during the interview what was expected and there would be a crunch time immediately. The new hire had their reasons for not disclosing and nothing illegal was done by either party, but my (unpopular) opinion is Castie has a right to feel burned and the new hire will understandably not be in the manager’s good graces upon returning. They will probably have to exceed expectations to gain any political capital going forward.

          Life is messy – Castie’s new hire probably had their reasons for doing what they did because of outside forces (need for a paycheck and health insurance) even though they took the job knowing they could not fulfill the requirements laid out during the hiring process. Realistically, very few managers could avoid feeling some level of resentment regardless of the reason (pregnancy, known illness) – that is not illegal as long as there isn’t retaliation upon their return.

          Other commentors below said the employer should just be better prepared to absorb workloads. That isn’t always realistic considering budget constraints, doing “more with less”, “lean ‘n mean” BS.

          1. Spreadsheets and Books*

            > That isn’t always realistic considering budget constraints, doing “more with less”, “lean ‘n mean” BS.

            That’s a pretty wordy way to say”corporate greed.”

          2. Allegra*

            By that logic, though, it would be unethical for a person with cancer or any medical condition where they maybe anticipate needing surgery or intensive care to seek employment at all, because you could always make the argument that they’re knowingly disadvantaging the employer. There’s a reason we implemented laws like FMLA and laws against pregnancy discrimination to protect people in these situations. It’s not unethical to seek employment with a medical condition that may take you out sometimes.

            My first semester home from college–I went to a women’s college–I went out with a group of friends and a friend who had been on the debate team turned to me and said “so since you’re the expert on feminism now, tell me why I as an employer should invest in hiring women of childbearing age when there’s proven evidence that they leave the workforce.” And it’s because it’s a condition that only part of the population experiences, and it’s unjust that ONLY that portion of the population experiences disproportionate effects on their abilities to work and support themselves because having babies IS important for, y’know, the species’ continued existence.

            I’m not saying it doesn’t disadvantage the employer temporarily. I have been left shorthanded several times from a coworker’s pregnancy, and it does suck. But I would never say my coworker was being unethical for not disclosing their pregnancy when we discussed upcoming workloads for that time period or whatever.

            1. Analyst*

              and you’ve just reminded me of a horrible first date I went on many years ago, during which I argued about this with my date (I do not recall how this came up, but once it did, I did not hold back). There was not a second date.

        5. B*

          This person was treated in a fully legal way because she did not tell you during the interview process she was pregnant.

          You are saying that, had she told you she was pregnant, you would not have hired her. I.e., treated a qualified candidate adversely solely on the basis of her pregnancy.

          See the problem?

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            My question would be whether or not a candidate is qualified if they’re not able to meet the objectives of the specific role? Some unavailability is an inconvenience, and some is incompatible with the requirements of the job. It needs to be explicit in the interview and at least some notation in the job description that the candidate has to meet/flex around outside deadlines/events.

            Our recruiting team handles this by asking candidates if there are any dates for which they will be unavailable in the first 4 months of employment – they do not differentiate between vacation, medical, parental, etc. – the hiring manager gets an email asking if the dates present a conflict with the role and makes a decision based on that. (You would think it’d be easy to tell from date ranges what it is, but, from experience it’s totally not.) They will not tell you what the candidate has scheduled those dates, it has to be a business conflict not managerial fiat, and you have to specify the business conflict (for example, there is a three-week jury trial that we’re hiring them for that directly conflicts with those dates). I think we’ve only run into one show-stopper in the past decade.

            The onus, though, is on the company to spell out the requirements of the job, not expect the candidate to disclose factors that may be used to discriminate against them.

            1. Deadlynightshades*

              This is such a smart way to handle it… but I’m guessing you work at one of those mythical companies with the “good” HR, don’t you?

            2. Analyst*

              And a pregnant woman (or person with cancer) would be well within their rights to not indicate their condition. This question is a crappy attempt to skirt around these laws. When you hire someone full time, you can not make your decision based on pregnancy. It’s literally the law.

              1. Rainy*

                This question would also allow the hiring manager to discriminate against people who need time off for religious observances. Yeah, I’m not loving this approach either.

                Never mind that someone can say “I don’t have any time off needs in the next four months” and then have a medical emergency requiring hospitalization or something similar.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                They are not required to indicate their condition nor are they asked for anything except any dates they would not be able to work in the first four months. Even if there is a voluntary disclosure, I get nothing but the dates, and HR will not accept hiring conflicts that aren’t specific, business-need-related, and universally applied. (If someone’s parental leave is a non-starter, then so is someone else’s backpacking trip.) Our HR is very conservative and risk-averse and our jurisdiction is employee-friendly, so I bet that this approach has been through multiple layers of legal scrutiny and would not be surprised to learn that any manager-reported conflicts are also vetted by counsel, if any protected class/event is even suspected.

                Not hiring someone who is pregnant is legal when you would decline to hire a non-pregnant person for the same reason; not hiring someone because they are pregnant is illegal.

        6. Spreadsheets and Books*

          My former VP left on maternity leave mid-2022. We’re in NYC, where there are actually decent parental leave, and my company makes it possible to take a full six months at least partially paid. Well, this VP pushed her return date to the last possible day… and quit the Friday before.

          And you know what? It was fine. The team made it work and the world kept spinning. Frankly, I applaud the audacity.

          I simply can’t align myself with the idea that our corporate overlords should come before the things that are more important in life.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            We had an employee go on mat leave when she had twins, come back, work for a few days and then quit effective immediately.

            It wasn’t a particularly high level position and we’d filled it with temps while she was out. Was it inconvenient? Yes. But what’s worse is being in a country where you had to make decisions like this because we have no safety net for parents, no paid mat leave, no health insurance that’s affordable if it isn’t tied to your employment, etc. etc.

            This is a systemic problem and it’s just really crappy that parents (and to other degrees, people with chronic illnesses or disabilities) are bearing the brunt of it.

            1. Rainy*

              I had a friend who had to do this–except she had to work a few weeks before she quit–because the company she worked for had a long history of firing pregnant women during their mat leave if they even suspected they weren’t planning to return, and then fighting unemployment.

              Her company had also, not long before she got pregnant, demanded that a former employee pay back the amount they’d already paid her on her mat leave and threatened to sue her if she didn’t pony up immediately. My friend’s kid is in his early 20s now, so this was a long time ago, but the number of managers who are either unaware of the law or who think that laws are for other people is demonstrably still quite large.

              1. CommanderBanana*

                Ugh, this is horrible. A friend of mine is going through a similar thing. She was approved for mat leave, took it, and now her org’s new CEO is claiming that their HR department was wrong in approving her leave / somehow got the amount of leave wrong, so now they want her to pay them back.

                I don’t know how it’s going to shake out, but I’ve encouraged her to consult with a lawyer. Even IF the HR department was in the wrong, that’s on the company, not her.

                1. Rainy*

                  A strongly worded letter from a lawyer will probably be helpful to her–a lot of this kind of thing goes away at the first hint that the victim will fight back.

        7. CommanderBanana*

          You’re slamming this person for being ‘unethical’ while you are admitting you would have done something illegal had she done the ‘ethical’ thing. Your company’s particular needs don’t give you a pass to do something illegal.

          You do realize that if she had disclosed, and you didn’t hire her because she was pregnant, she could have sued your company, right?

          I really hope you sit with some of the comments on this thread and reflect on your decisions.

    2. Happy Camper*

      And people like you are why it’s legally protected. Pregnant people are still people. You could have hired someone with heart issues who drops dead a month in to the job. It’s part of doing business.

      1. Candace*

        And people have things happen and leave for other reasons all. the. time. I’m not involved in hiring decisions, but my husband is, and I wonder if people don’t realize how much turnover there is in businesses. For what it’s worth, maternity leave is one of the easiest “problems” to deal with since it is planned for.

    3. Admin Lackey*

      Truly amazing how there’s always at least one person on posts about pregnancy advocating for pregnancy discrimination.

      Your employee didn’t do anything unethical – she looked out for herself, just as you admit you would have done if you’d known she was pregnant.

      Your thinking is exactly why these anti-discrimination laws exist.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Also, can we all go ahead and admit that the claws don’t come out like this for any other situation, just pregnancy? Would you have acted the same way if your new hire was diagnosed with cancer? Got into a horrible car accident? Had a spouse or child die unexpectedly? But noooooo, she had the audacity to be PREGNANT, the unethical little hussy.

        It’s gross.

        1. Rainy*

          I mean, to be fair, many of these people will *also* complain if an employee dares to be human in any way at all, but there is a special degree of resentment and entitlement in play when it’s pregnancy, caregiving, or cancers usually associated with female bodies.

          Curious indeed. What could possibly be the root of these attitudes.

        2. Admin Lackey*

          ++++++++1 It drives me up the wall!!!!

          And they’re always convinced that their situation is the ONE time it makes sense and pregnancy discrimination should have been allowed… no dude, you just want to discriminate against women, plain and simple

          1. CommanderBanana*

            ^^Good point! And the original comment has a gross heaping helping of “but I support parental leave and flexibility!”*

            *except I don’t and definitely not when it inconveniences me

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        “But her actions harmed me and my company, and made life difficult for others.”

        No, your company’s staffing policies did the harm to itself and created the difficulties. You said yourself you had to use a ton of political capital and make a lot of promises about deliverables to get funding for this role. That’s not how its supposed to work.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      The applicant did nothing wrong. I know you want to blame her, but really you should be blaming your company. It was their responsibility to provide support to you and your team. Cost of doing business – and the right thing to do.

      The problem I often hear about is that companies expect managers and teams to magically absorb the workload without support. Then for some reason, the pregnant woman ends up getting blamed.

      1. HungryLawyer*

        Yes, this 100%! Dealing with disruptions to business operations is the cost of doing business and it’s on the company to bear that cost given the power imbalance between employers and employees.

    5. HungryLawyer*

      It is in fact unethical for an employer to expect a potential/current employee to risk discrimination and job loss for the sake of the employer’s convenience. Employment is a business transaction, a point that Alison makes often. This means that employers should be prepared to handle disruptions in business operations that are caused by pregnancies, illnesses, turnover, etc. That’s the cost of doing business. Given the power imbalance between employers and employees/applicants, it’s on the company to absorb that cost.

    6. anon_sighing*

      I get why you’re frustrated and upset, but it’s really concerning you had one role — a new hire of a maximum of 3.5 months considering he was 7.5 months pregnant and was off for 2 months — be a critical driver for a project in your company. It takes an employee about 6 months to get fully on-boarded, in my experience, and another 6 months before they really feel grounded as a member of the team. I would never entrust a new hire of less than 4 months for something operationally important. What if they caved under pressure and quit??

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yes! Why is your new hire, who would still be getting up to speed in 2 months, responsible for this HUGE deadline in a crunch time? I’d think that you’d want longer term employees to be handling that kind of thing, as they’re familiar with the process and deadlines. It feels very suspect that you’d say “okay, you start Monday, and then in 2 weeks you start Huge Critical Project that ONLY YOU can do”.

      2. CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*

        I understand your perspective. But the situation was very much like:

        “We have an annual big event that requires months of planning. We are hiring this role because this person will run this, and other events every year. I’m interviewing you in November, with an expected hire date of December, and the event is in April. It will take almost al of January, February and March to plan. I have been planning this event myself for several years, but that is untenable. I ABSOLUTELY need an experienced event planner (like you) who can take this burden away from me and the several other people it has been dramatically impacting. That’s why I am paying an above-average salary, because with your background and skill set, you can do this immediately as it is very similar to what you have been doing. That is EXACTLY what I am hiring for.”

        I wrote the JD, funded the position and evaluated the candidates based on their ability to do EXACTLY this role. The person in question never once said there would be anything that would prevent them from doing this.

        I understand unforeseen events like injury or cancer. But this very strongly seemed like intentional dishonesty justified by the fact that the law allowed it.

        Legal? Yes. ethical? No.

        1. Analyst*

          Except you’re hiring for them to do this event every year, not just this year. And it is NOT unethical to make use of your rights (as your pregnant employee did). You’re not hiring a contractor for dates x-y, you’re hiring a full time employee, which comes with various benefits and rights. She was NOT dishonest. Not disclosing a protected condition is not dishonest or unethical. Your attitude however is. Please, go share your views with your HR so they can be aware that you are a lawsuit waiting to happen.

          Also…given how new she was, she’s likely taking unpaid leave, so hire a contractor and she’ll be back and handling this event next year.

    7. Enough*

      To Castie.
      Understand your point completely. Yes, as you pointed out legally the employee didn’t do anything wrong but ethically was somewhat compromised. Too many people fail to recognize that legal, ethical and moral are not synonymous. And there are lots of times what is legal has nothing to do with what is ethical.

      1. Emb*

        I completely disagree. It’s not the employer’s business. Should I have disclosed that I have a severe mental illness that would likely require me to take FMLA every couple years when I was hired? Of course not, because it would lead to direct bias against me for having a disability, which is genetic and out of my control.

        Women who are mothers, or are at the age they *might * become pregnant, are already treated with unconscious bias in work and hiring decisions. Why on earth would it be ethical to allow an employer to discriminate against you for something that is protected by law by informing them if you don’t have to?

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Except that your definition of “ethical” means “did exactly what I wanted”.

        This is not about ethics; but rather someone being a bit butt-hurt over staffing issues and placing the blame in the wrong direction. The new hire was not the cause of their staffing problems, their management team was.

        1. CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*

          Actually no. Being “ethical” means doing what you SAY you will do. When an applicant SAYS “I can and will do X for you” as a condition of being hired, and then uses the law to NOT do what they said they would do, putting both the company and other employees who have to cover for them in a bad position? THAT is unethical.

          It’s easy. If you say “The position I am being hired for REQUIRES me to be able to plan this event for you over the next 3 months, because that is the JOB DESCRIPTION”? Then do what you said/implied you would do.

          This wasn’t an unexpected or unforeseen possibility. This was an individual who knew she could not do what she said she would, but who also knew that once she got hired? There was nothing that could be done about her deception.

          Like I said. Perfectly legal, and quite unethical.

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            Sorry, but that’s not the definition of ethical either. If I say I will murder 10,000 people, and then follow up on it, that’s not being ethical. That’s just being a psychopath.

            Hiring is always a risky areas for organizations, and probably one of the most high-risk areas there are. But guess what? It’s even more of a risk for the new employee, because the employer/employee power dynamic is not equal. You can decide to let someone go a week after you hire them, or move them to a different position, or demote them, or pay them less than you promised. People can lose their homes over this. That’s a lot of power to have over somebody’s life.

            But you know what happens if someone walks? You have to work extra hours to cover until you can replace them. Your job or home isn’t on the line because of this. As for job descriptions, I have yet to work in a position where my actual work matched 100% what is on the job description.

            Yep, you got stung on this one. Lick your wounds and get over it. You hired wrong. It happens. But that’s not the real problem here. If you really, really need someone to be doing a particular thing at a particular time in a particular place, there is a way to guarantee that–get a contract.

            Basically, the real problem is that your management sucks, and it probably isn’t going to change. You are understaffed (possibly because you underpay) and you have to exert more time and effort (and political capital!) to get positions filled. You should probably change jobs, but instead you prefer to blame this one person. You keep doubling down on your desire to break the law and act in an unethical way yourself by discriminating against pregnant people.

            Also, you keep saying that this person knew this or knew that, but you have absolutely no idea what they actually knew. It’s entirely possible that they took the job, realized it was a complete and utter shitshow, and just said they were pregnant to get out of a terrible job. (They were remote, after all.) Given all the hoops you had to jump through just to fill this position and how understaffed you chronically seem to be, this seems like a definite possibility.

            You need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and read through all of these comments. You really don’t get it, and if you want to be successful in your job in the future, as well as be a decent human being, you really need to adjust how you are viewing this. I’m sorry you’re so bitter and angry, but I really think you need a different job. You are angry and upset at the wrong person.

          2. Master Preserver*

            People here aren’t getting that you wouldn’t have refused to hire this woman because she was pregnant. You would have not hired her because she COULD NOT DO THE JOB she was being hired for. I’m not sure why that’s so hard to understand.

            If she were pregnant and could continue to do the job she was hired for? Fine. If she knew ahead of time that she’d be out during the critical months that you were specifically hiring for? Not fine. Not only unethical, but she lied to you. Period. How is this different from someone being hired to specifically (for example) to move heavy boxes all day, and on the first day of work they come in and say oh, I can’t lift anything over 3 pounds? They knew they couldn’t do the job they were hired for.

            1. Admin Lackey*

              This is what’s called a distinction without a difference. The decision would have hinged on the pregnancy. Sucks that he got strung along but that’s life and his rationalization, then and now, is illegal

            2. CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*

              Exactly this. I care about the employees who work for, and and happy about her family. Mazel tov! The problem is that I had a job that NEEDED to get done in a specific time frame. The position only EXISTED because of the need to get that job done. This person was interviewed and hired at an above-market rate specifically because we needed this even planned.

              At all stages of the interview process, she implied she would be very good at this role, and described how she would do certain things related to this role. Then, after being hired, she told me that SHE COULD NOT DO WHAT SHE WAS HIRED FOR.

              That is simply dishonest and unethical. I didn’t hire her to be pregnant or not pregnant. As you say, if she actually did what she was hired for, her pregnancy would have been utterly immaterial.

              Legal? Absolutely? ethical? Not in a million years.

              1. Admin Lackey*

                You know what? Good for her. #girlboss and all that.

                Sorry you were inconvenienced but as others have said, a short contract and not a full time position would have been a better way to go. Your management’s problems and organizational disfunctions weren’t hers to worry about.

                But as you’ve found one person who also agrees with your distinction without a difference, I don’t suppose you have any reason to listen to the chorus of voices telling you that your motivations are illegal.

                Congrats, you’re the one person who should have been allowed to do pregnancy discrimination that one time.

                1. CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*

                  You can be emotionally outraged by it all you want. It was a simple point. If you can’t do a job, knowing EXACTLY what the job is? Don’t SEEK and then accept the job, and then leverage the law to justify being dishonest with an employer who was hiring you in good faith.

                  Obviously what she did was perfectly legal. I never said otherwise. I said it was *unethical*, just like a person interviewing for a job as a mover, being told that the hirer has a desperate need for the mover to start moving furniture immediately, getting hired, and then only after showing up for work saying “BTW, I broke my leg, I can only do desk for for the next 3 months and you can’t fire me for my disability.”

                  Live up to what you say you will do. It isn’t that complicated, whether the lew gives you a loophole to get out of doing so or not. If I promised my employee a promotion, then on the day she was expecting it, I found a loophole that “technically” get out of giving it to her? Would you say I behaved ethically? Of course not. This is no different.

                2. Admin Lackey*

                  @CastielNeedsHisOwnShow* I’m clearly not going to change your mind, but your views and situation aren’t particularly unique – that’s why there’s legislation.

                  I know that you know she didn’t do anything wrong legally. I also don’t particularly care if she did something unethical. If she did, it was minor. Meanwhile, you admit that if you had known she was pregnant, you would not have hired her. That’s illegal and unethical.

                  I think you might have a leg to stand on if it was a short term contract, but it wasn’t. If it was a permanent position, then she wasn’t just being hired for those months.

                  If your so confident in your views, maybe you should run them by HR and see if they agree with you.

      3. Rainy*

        So you believe that this employee had an ethical obligation to enable Castiel to break the law, which is what Castiel admits they would have done if they’d had that information?

        Make it make sense.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      If you needed a 6 month cover, you would probably have been better served hiring a temp – to full time with a 6 month contract, or going through a staffing agency. When you hire a full time employee, you are presumably hiring them for the long term, not just what they can do in their first six months. There’s nothing unethical about not disclosing a pregnancy – she’s didn’t lie to you or mislead you about her skills. There is something unethical about discriminating against a new full-time hire because they are pregnant.

    9. Laura*

      It’s not unethical at all. What’s unethical (not to mention illegal) is to refuse to hire someone because they are pregnant.

    10. Beth*

      Your core problem here is that your employer forced you to spend so much capital and make such intense promises just to staff a critically important role.

      Your employer should have hired someone for this critical work this before it was “this needs to happen in the next 2 months or we’re screwed” level. Your employer should have funded this important position without you needing to spend a lot of capital on it. Your employer should have staffed your department such that you could keep running without major problems if someone had to go out on medical leave unexpectedly.

      Your employer’s failure to do any of those things harmed you and themselves, and made life difficult for others–including this employee who is now experiencing backlash for exercising her legally protected right to seek employment while pregnant. You should be grateful that she didn’t give you the chance to break the law. It sounds like your company has enough problems without courting a discrimination lawsuit on top of it all.

      1. Happy Camper*

        And how would the pregnant employee even know everything you had to do to secure someone in that position? They would have no knowledge of that.

    11. CommanderBanana*

      ….you just admitted that you wouldn’t have hired someone for that open job because they were pregnant. That’s literally textbook discrimination.

      I’m not discounting your frustration with the situation, but YOUR frustration doesn’t trump not breaking the actual law. It’s interesting that you’re impugning this person’s integrity while freely admitting that you wouldn’t have hired them if they had disclosed their pregnancy. “Almost certainly have found a way to hire them in the future” is not the same as a job offer.

      Saying that you support parental leave and flexibility and in the same breath saying you wouldn’t hire a pregnant person is just….wow.

    12. Debby*

      I don’t mean to offend, CastielNeedsHisOwnShow but…while I can see your point and how disappointing and frustrating it would be-take a look at what you are implying. You are saying that you very likely would NOT have hired her if you had known she was pregnant. That is discrimination. And the fact that you did hire her makes the case that she was the best candidate. If you would not have hired her, how ethical would that be? Not to mention illegal. So it is a perfect illustration as to why LW should NOT disclose her pregnancy.

    13. Katie*

      I helped hire my counterpart. We were acquiring another company at year end an dmy work was essentially doubling. The first many months were going to be far worse.

      Well we hired in October and surprise! she was pregnant. She was due in early January. My manager somewhat tried to get a temp but it didn’t happen. Work was way worse than anticipated and I broke down (and I don’t break down). They switched stuff around and I got backup.

      I don’t blame the person in maternity leave for not saying anything. while those 4 months were extremely important, she was hired for a permanent position not just a 4 month position. I blame management for not getting me a temp (when they magically got it 4 months later!)

    14. lost academic*

      You should not be a hiring manager anymore and furthermore you should not be in a position to give employee reviews that impact their standing in the company, raises, bonuses, promotions, etc. Your judgment and understanding of the law and how it needs to work is deeply flawed.

    15. Analyst*

      And this is why you legally can NOT make hiring decisions based on pregnancy. You would have but your company in legal trouble and your job at risk. Really, you should be thanking her for keeping you from breaking the law and potentially loosing your own job. Frankly, your current attitude is also illegal and problematic. Yes, it sucks that you really needed someone….but that’s life. If you only needed someone for a critical period, that’s what a temp or contractor is for.

    16. amoeba*

      Eh, I mean, to be fair, if it was the candidate writing in, I’d probably also go for “yeah, probably that particular role isn’t ideal as they appear to really need somebody during that time and you’ll probably burn quite some goodwill there if it turns out you’re not actually going to be available”. So, like, if they had choices (other offers, current job and just looking around, comfortable savings…) it wouldn’t be the best call, sure!
      But we don’t know, I mean, if her unemployment was running out or she really needed to get out of a toxic old job as quickly as possible, or whatever other possibilities you can think of, I completely understand she did it anyway. Like, I wouldn’t feel great about taking the job, but I can see there’s good reasons to do so. And yeah, that’s why the hiring manager then has to deal with it, for sure. But I also understand being frustrated at the situation, honestly, I’m sure most people would be – just don’t take it out on the employee.

      1. Jan Levinson Gould*

        Amoeba, I agree with your perspective that the move the new hire made might have been because they were in a difficult financial and/or health care position and had to do what they did to stay afloat. Those of us in fan fiction land don’t know the specifics, but if that were the case, it’s more forgivable. However, I understand Castie’s perspective that the person agreed to do the job under false pretenses as Castie stated they made the requirements and the timeline for the job quite clear.

        I’ve never seen such a contentious thread on the AAM comments section in my time lurking here. Castie clearly explained the situation and why they were upset, but they took a beating on this comment section. This could have been an opportunity for an open dialogue instead of Castie having to defend themself. Sure their employer should have more redundancy or brought on a contractor, but that is not always possible because tight budgets are often a part of working life. Sometimes reality stinks.

        I was frustrated with my job while in family planning mode a few years ago. I looked a bit, but decided I was better off staying where I was a known quantity with flexibility and didn’t want to risk burning goodwill early with a new job. If I were in a tough spot, I might have done the same as Castie’s hire for the paycheck and healthcare, but I probably would not have felt great about doing so. As long as there’s no proof of retaliation for being in the protected class, there’s nothing illegal about a manager not sticking their neck out for an employee when it comes to raises, bonuses, advancement opportunities, and the sweet assignments. People can trash that manager all they want for being an unfair meanie, but that’s life and human nature. My husband quit his job after taking paternity leave and collecting his bonus to become a SAHD with zero regrets, so I’m by no means pro-company.

        If anything good came of this thread, it gives the OP a counterpoint to think about, particularly with the expectations of the prospective job. Although they are so early in their pregnancy that there is plenty of time for contingency planning at the new job if they get it – a month or two pregnant is quite different than 7.5 months. When they go onsite for an interview, they should carefully read the room, vibe and perhaps demographics of colleagues and leadership. The job sounds like a huge step up, but not without risk, particularly considering relocation. A lot for them to think about and good luck!

    17. What's my name again*

      You are being jumped on for stating facts. I hope you know many many people would agree with you on this instance. Just not in this comment section.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        No. They are being jumped on because they admit they would have broken the law if they had the chance. And they also admit they are retaliating against the employee. Then they have the nerve to call their employee unethical, in an amazing feat of projection.

        I think you and they need to actually review some real ethics.

    18. Unpopular opinion*

      This is why I support zero protected time off until you have been at a company for at least a year. You should have been able to tell this women, congrats on the kid, your job requires you to do X you can be fired or you can come back to work as soon as you give birth, no time off.

      1. Alright Alright Alright*

        As a “women,” I’m glad your opinion is unpopular because it sucks.

  14. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    “My plan is to proceed with the interview process as though I were not pregnant.”

    Good plan. If it were me, I wouldn’t even acknowledge being pregnant until 1-2 months before your due date. That gives you and the company time to plan for coverage, etc, but doesn’t give months and months for your pregnancy to become a fraught topic that could affect your future growth. Congrats and best wishes, LW!

    1. Noncompliance Specialist*

      My mom was appalled that I told my very supportive boss (who I had worked for for 3 years) that I was pregnant after my 1st trimester. I had a complicated pregnancy and had to miss a lot of work suddenly. My boss was just happy to learn I wasn’t job hunting. But my mom is a lawyer and her male partners were absolute jerks when she went out on maternity leave decades ago. She couldn’t comprehend why I’d ever give a workplace more notice than absolutely necessary.

      But judging from some of these comments, she was right. LW, you don’t owe anyone special courtesy to take the maternity leave you are legally entitled to, and you deserve to be treated like any other applicant.

  15. Sparklecat*

    How does this apply to people working in smaller companies such as nonprofits? Are the laws the same? Are we entitled to the same accommodations?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      The Pregnancy Discrimination Act is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. They define employer in this way:

      “(b) The term “employer” means a person engaged in an industry affecting commerce who has fifteen or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year, and any agent of such a person, but such term does not include (1) the United States, a corporation wholly owned by the Government of the United States, an Indian tribe, or any department or agency of the District of Columbia subject by statute to procedures of the competitive service (as defined in section 2102 of Title 5 [United States Code]), or

      (2) a bona fide private membership club (other than a labor organization) which is exempt from taxation under section 501(c) of Title 26 [the Internal Revenue Code of 1986], except that during the first year after March 24, 1972 [the date of enactment of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972], persons having fewer than twenty-­five employees (and their agents) shall not be considered employers.”

  16. Tesuji*

    I’m not sure I understand the distinction between “they can’t fire you for being pregnant, even as a new employee” but “unless you’ve been there a year, you’re not covered by FMLA.”

    My (perhaps flawed) understanding of the FMLA is that the primary benefit is simply that your job is protected if you take unpaid leave for reasons that fall within the FMLA.

    So is “if I take maternity leave soon after being hired at a new company, I will not be covered by FMLA” just a fancy way of saying “they can’t fire me for being pregnant, but they can totally legally refuse to let me take unpaid leave and fire me (or demote me or transfer me) if I do”?

    If the flipside of “You’re not legally required to disclose your pregnancy” is “An employer is not legally required to grant maternity leave to a new employee”, I’m kind of not sure that really helps. At that point, you’re just playing chicken with the company, over whether not granting maternity leave might affect employee morale or company reputation.

    I mean, there can certainly be benefits to waiting to drop the “I’m pregnant and you’re just going to have to deal with it” card, but it feels like there’s an awful lot of “It’s better for society to normalize this… but you might pay a personal price in the fight to accomplish that” that feels baked in here.

    Or maybe I completely misunderstand the protections she’ll have the moment they make the offer. Totally possible.

    1. Rocket Raccoon*

      In the US, if you do not qualify for FMLA, you can indeed be fired for needing to take unpaid leave.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, but they need to treat pregnancy the same as they treat other medical conditions. If they let Joe take 2 months off for cancer treatments before he qualified for FMLA, they’d have to let you do it too.

    2. formerly pregnant person*

      I think your understanding is basically correct: they can’t decline to hire her for being pregnant, and she’d presumably be able to take sick/vacation/PTO time for giving birth/recovering therefrom under their standard policy (i.e. they couldn’t fire her for that), but she wouldn’t be legally entitled to any time beyond that.

      That’s the argument for disclosing after they’ve made an offer, as part of negotiations: they want to hire you, and you want to find out before you take the job what kind of leave they’re willing to offer you, so you can factor that in to whether to take the job.

    3. Alex*

      That is why you need to disclose AFTER the offer but BEFORE accepting the job. Once they offer you the job, and you tell them you are pregnant, they can’t rescind the offer or else it will look like they are discriminating against you because you are pregnant, and that would open them up for a lawsuit.

      But you CAN get in writing, when you are negotiating your salary, etc., that you will need to take leave. That can protect you somewhat. Could they negotiate that in bad faith and plan to fire you once you go on leave, because you are not protected by FMLA? Sure. But that’s not really in their interest, since they’d need to employ you for however much time is between your hire date and the date you go on maternity leave. And it could open them up to lawsuit if they have allowed employees to take medical leave before FMLA kicked in before, as that would show that they were discriminating against pregnant people.

    4. Beth*

      They can’t fire you for being pregnant, but if you aren’t covered by FMLA, they can fire you for taking too much leave after birth. Most employers have some kind of sick leave, short term disability leave, or other PTO–or they have a precedent of allowing unpaid leave for medical reasons, or they’re willing to negotiate for leave as part of the offer, etc. But worst case scenario, at an awful employer, you might have to go right back to work to keep your job safe.

  17. LawDog*

    OK, I’ll be the jerk…it’s a “new pregnancy” (1-2 months along)….
    Who says the child will even survive pregnancy?

    You’re jumping the gun. Get an offer in-hand.
    THEN…decide how you want to negotiate for paid maternity time etc.
    If they rescind the offer, you’re golden. Call a lawyer.

    Better yet – call a lawyer now. Have someone lined up.

    1. Bast*

      My first pregnancy, I made the mistake of getting excited and telling everyone I knew, buying up half of Babies-R-Us, only to have a miscarriage a week later. After that experience, I refrained from telling anyone until I was out of the first trimester, because having to explain that I was pregnant and just as suddenly wasn’t was quite upsetting. It’s fairly common for women to wait, especially those who have experienced loss, so not wanting to bring it up until you reach Point X is not unusual at all.

    2. A trans person*

      Splaining the *hell* out of pregnancy to a person who has merely had a miscarriage and extensive consultations with fertility specialists. What the hell does she know? Your instructions to do the thing she is already doing will make this work out, and thank you so much for that

  18. Sometimes I Wonder*

    You hire the person. You have no idea whether they will be incapacitated later, and you’re not entitled to know that. They may be hit by a bus or struck down with cancer or other illness; they may need to take time off to care for someone or grieve the death of their partner, child, or parent. LIFE HAPPENS. It is not a personally-aimed fraud for a candidate to protect their privacy.

    1. Just a question*

      The hit by a bus is the best analogy. You just hired someone and a week after they started they got hit by a bus. They will need to recoup for 12 weeks. The fact she knew she was pregnant doesnt change the outcome. The position is empty for 12 weeks

  19. TechMom*

    I’m actually able to respond to something!

    I had a baby seven months ago. I think your question re: Should I start I new job while pregnant depends entirely on your personality. Even before I had my baby, I couldn’t imagine needing to learn a new job… and then come back to that “newness” while also navigating a newborn. But I know there are people who get excited by all the change! So it’s dependent. :)

  20. samwise*

    Many years ago, I was up for a promotion. New position, while I was the best candidate, I was not the only good choice. I knew when I went up for the position that I was pregnant, early enough that no one could tell. AFTER I got the position, THEN I told my boss I would need maternity leave. His face fell ever so briefly, then he congratulated me and we worked out the timing of upcoming projects, new work, and so on.

    Don’t say a damned thing about it to anyone at the place you are interviewing — NO ONE. After you get the offer, then negotiate maternity leave etc.

  21. Astronaut Barbie*

    I once went on a job interview while I was very visibly pregnant. The interviewer asked when I was due and I looked at my watch! He turned white! I said well, any minute now! We both laughed. I was offered the job. (Didn’t take it though).

    1. Greg*

      I was once interviewed for a job by a startup CEO who was visibly pregnant; skinny frame with a big belly that she was constantly cradling. I was internally screaming at myself, “DON’T SAY ANYTHING! DON’T SAY ANYTHING!” because what if God forbid I was wrong. Fortunately, halfway through the interview she brought it up.

        1. Greg*

          Good rule in general, but particularly when the person is a hiring manager with your fate in her hands.

          I once invited over to our house a good friend who I knew was trying to get pregnant. When she walked in, I was sure I saw a bump. I pulled my wife aside and asked her opinion, and she agreed that she definitely looked pregnant. A little later, my friend mentioned that she was trying to get pregnant again, “but before I do I’m hoping to lose this weight from my first pregnancy”. Phew! Crisis narrowly averted

          1. Orv*

            What’s really awkward is when you’re on public transit and someone who appears pregnant walks on. If you don’t offer them your seat and they ARE pregnant, you’re a jerk, but what if you’re wrong?

  22. Greg*

    OP, my wife was in almost the exact same scenario as you 10 years ago. She was interviewing for a job in a new city that would require us to move, and was already pregnant. Fortunately, the timing worked out such that her last in-person interview occurred well before she was showing, and all subsequent interviews/negotiations took place over the phone, so they had no idea that she was pregnant. She chose not to disclose until after she had accepted; I don’t recall her even considering disclosing it post-offer in order to negotiate mat leave.

    The other thing to consider with the post-offer strategy is that it can reduce your leverage. Let’s suppose Troglodyte Corp. wants to rescind the offer after hearing the news, but knows they will get sued. So instead they take a super hard line on everything. Can you come up a little on salary? Nope, it’s firm. Signing bonus? No can do. Add on a few vacation days? Sorry, company policy. Next thing you know you’re turning them down and they’ve managed to make their “problem” go away with no legal repercussions. Not saying that will happen, but it’s a concern.

    Fortunately, in my wife’s case, the employer handled it exactly the way they should have. Her manager told her congratulations, and they allowed her to take two months leave (unpaid). Which makes sense. They didn’t hire her to be a short-term contractor, they hired her for the long term, and what’s a couple months in the long term?

    Incidentally, a couple years later a friend of hers was interviewing for a post-residency fellowship. She felt ethically bound to disclose post-offer, and what do you know? When she received the written offer, it turned out the benefits package wasn’t as generous as she had been led to believe during prior discussions, specifically with respect to her being able to go on their insurance right away. Do I know for certain that they changed the terms after learning she was pregnant? No, and I hope that wasn’t the case. But as Alison says, because of the timing of her disclosure she was left wondering

    1. anon here*

      This is a good point, but I would still lean toward trying to negotiate something in the offer stage. The primary reason is that I would consider coming back after a very short maternity leave (3 weeks or less, let’s say? Maybe 6 weeks or less) a dealbreaker, and I wouldn’t want to be stuck wanting to quit my new job (but feeling stuck) if that’s all that would in fact be available to me. I’d rather keep looking or stay where I am. The secondary reason is that trying to work somewhere that wants to fire you for being present is going to be the opposite of fun with a newborn, and so in that respect it may also serve as a screening tool. And I think in most cases, employers do try to accommodate some semblance of leave for people in this position–so better to try and probably be somewhat successful than to be stuck with relying solely on their benevolence (or not) once I start the job.

      1. Greg*

        Yeah, I stacked the deck a little with the whole “Troglodyte Corp”. The truth is, it’s far more likely to be something subtle, even unconscious. Negotiating an offer is hard in any circumstance, and there may be many reasons they’re reluctant to come up on salary or benefits. Disclosing your pregnancy could make your job harder.

        Anyway, there’s no right answer. Ultimately, as with any negotiation, it comes down to what you value. If having time off, or having it paid, is more important, you should disclose and try to get that as part of your offer. If your priority is salary or other benefits, you may not want to

  23. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    The question about how to handle it with the interviewer/hiring manager is important to me. If I was the kind of person who was irritated at someone taking their legally protected benefits and they told me “I wouldn’t want to have put you in a position of unconscious bias” it would not help our relationship any.

    I would consider saying “I wasn’t aware I was pregnant till right before I got the offer. I know I’m not legally required to tell you and it protects you from any unconscious bias that you didn’t know, but I wanted to put this out there so you didn’t think I was intentionally hiding anything from you. However, now that I’m pregnant, and won’t qualify for FMLA before I give birth in 9 months, I wanted to see if there was room to negotiate parental leave benefits”

    1. Beth*

      I also would present this (post receiving an offer) as if I’d just learned that I’m pregnant. Yes, anyone with sense will suspect that I might have known earlier–but there’s no way to prove it, and it saves everyone from an awkward “you hid this from us?” conversation.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      If I was the kind of person who was irritated at someone taking their legally protected benefits and they told me “I wouldn’t want to have put you in a position of unconscious bias” it would not help our relationship any.

      Ugh. I don’t know that I would want to work for someone like that. Employees have had to fight tooth and claw for a lot of these legal protections, and someone being ruffled about somebody using them would make me wonder how they viewed their employees overall. You’re hiring me, not buying me.

  24. formerly pregnant person*

    I’ve disclosed a pregnancy in an interview process (circumstances differed from yours, including that I was farther along) and successfully negotiated a leave as part of the salary/benefits discussion. I started the job at ~6 months pregnant, went out on leave at just over 8 months (I’m in California, so that’s not unusual), and went back to work when the baby was just over 5 months old. The leave was partially paid, though nothing more than I would have gotten had I been at the company long enough to be subject to their standard maternity leave policy, and slightly longer than I would have been legally entitled to had I been at the company long enough to be entitled to standard state leave protections.

    The time was really important to me, and I probably wouldn’t have taken the job if they’d not agreed to the return-t0-work date I wanted; I might have been willing to negotiate on the pay aspect of it, so I do recommend that you consider whether there’s any distinction there for you. I was also in a position where I already had a job and would have gotten an OK (but not ideal) leave there, so I was willing to ask and push for something better from the new place; your feelings about the relative desirability of your current job vs the new one will matter, too, to what you want to do.

  25. RVA Cat*

    The article is paywalled so my apologies if Allison said the same, but try to imagine if a man would tie himself in knots like this if he had orthopedic surgery scheduled a few months out.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I was thinking something similar. If men got pregnant, this would not be an issue at all.

    2. amoeba*

      I mean, in some very specific cases I can see that happening as well (like the one further up – super important event coming up at a specific time, hire is specifically going to be heavily involved in said event, would miss it due to scheduled surgery).

      But yeah, your standard, run of the mill job search with no additional complications – absolutely. Basically, “how would a man with scheduled surgery behave” is generally a good litmus test whether it might *actually* cause problems or the problem is sexism/prejudice!

  26. Ashley*

    My advice is to plan a safety net! As others pointed out, FMLA won’t kick in until after a year & many companies don’t start benefits until after a trial period. You could be without income for X amount of time. Being pregnant, moving states, starting a new job & then having a baby is A LOT to take on! I also recommend looking into any support available in the area for new families. Having a baby (especially a first) can be very stressful & having some help in a new place would be beneficial for all of you.

  27. Lou's Girl*

    A candidate let me know early in the hiring process that she was pregnant. As the company HR person, I told her not to tell anyone until after. She was hired (over 2 other people). When the hiring manager found out, he was not happy. I asked him if he wasn’t happy that she was pregnant or wasn’t happy with me for letting him hire the most qualified candidate? He never mentioned it again. She returned from maternity leave and was the best employee ever.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I absolutely LOVE your response to him!

      Pregnancy is temporary. Great employees are….well, they can also be temporary, but if you treat them well and give them respect, they can be around a lot longer than nine months.

  28. Pink Candyfloss*

    LW, I was the hiring manager in this exact situation. All our interviews were via phone and when the candidate came in on Day 1 of new job she disclosed – though it was apparent; she didn’t need to. I can’t say I wasn’t thrown for a loop, BUT, we worked around and through it, she took her leave and came back, and proved herself a stellar employee – the right hire, as we knew she was.

    Disclose when you are ready – IF you get hired. The company can do without for a bit longer and then you can come back swinging.

  29. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    An HM’s attitude will be heavily influenced not just by their own prejudices but by 2 characteristics of their organisation:

    1) Do they have sufficient staff to allow for normal life events like maternity leave or longterm sickness?

    2) D0 employees typically stay for only 1-2 years or for 20+ years i.e. how long an investment do they have in their staff.

    e.g. at FinalJob:
    They were staffed for maternity leaves, sick leaves of up to 2 years plus the 32 vacation days that even the most junior apprentice received.
    People typically stayed 25-40 years, so a couple of maternity leaves even at the standard 12 months was never an issue.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Disadvantage for FinalJob of course is that all this plus staffing for a 37.5 hour working week probably reduced the profit margin compared to what a comparable US company would have.

      Squeezing the last drop from your employees may make good business sense – I don’t know, but I enjoyed my 30 years there and worked my best for them.

  30. Scooter34*

    Congratulations and best of luck to you!

    I interviewed and was hired for a position while pregnant and did not disclose until the end of my first week on the job. I was promptly terminated two days later because “office needs” changed.

    I say this not to scare you but to encourage you to plan for the worst. When ever you make a move that could come with big reward or big risk, plan what you would do and how far you need to go down to take care of your responsibilities (is working at McDonald’s okay? Can you get office support work? Would it be easy to get your old job back or something similar?

    Once you have a good plan, it helps you to ride out the storm – you’ve assessed your value and know your next steps.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Surely that was illegal to let you go?
      If any employer can legally claim that “office needs changed” and it is too complicated / expensive in practice for a worker to challenge, then that would render maternity protections meaningless except for highly privileged women.

  31. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    imo it’s only worth an interviewee disclosing their need for maternity or extended sick leave of any kind if they know they are in high demand and that the organisation is very eager to employ them.
    i.e. depends on the strength of their negotiating position.

    However, sounds like the OP is only one of a number of suitable candidates, so she needs to keep quiet about this, even after accepting the offer – it’s probably better to wait until after onboarding when you have learned what accommodations they offer for non-maternal disability. Otherwise they could try to drive you out by allowing only the legal minimum accommodation.

  32. 40ish*

    To my mind, this scenario is made simpler by the fact that LW is so early in the pregnancy. It just does not make sense to disclose before 3-4 months in most cases and you can‘t base your decision-making on the pregnancy at this stage. This timing also makes it easier to actually be in the role for a while still during the pregnancy. 5-6 months along would be a lot more difficult to handle (not being able to hide the pregnancy, possibly having to set the start date after maternity leave).
    Of course, whether this is just too many changed in a short amount of time is a different question.

  33. mockjedi*

    I found out I was pregnant literally the weekend before I started my new job (also a big jump in salary and career). We’d been trying, so I was aware I could be, but I definitely did not disclose that to my employer. My husband’s an employment lawyer, and his advice is the same as the answer–you’re doing them a favor, legally speaking, by not mentioning it until after you have an offer. Whether you bring it up right after the offer for negotiation purposes, or after your first trimester while you’ve been working there for a little bit, it’s entirely up to you. I ended up disclosing about 4 weeks after I started because I was so nauseous all the time, and they’ve been amazing about it. You may not qualify for FMLA, but there could be state programs you qualify for (my state offers pregnancy disability leave and some paid family leave for folks who haven’t been at their jobs a full year, for example), and honestly you’re early enough in the pregnancy that you’ll get a good run of work to get set up and get them set up to succeed while you’re out for a bit, that odds are you’ll make a great impression regardless. Good luck with the pregnancy!

  34. RebeccaNoraBunch*

    Not to do with pregnancy but:

    I am disabled (bad lungs) and use supplemental oxygen.

    My condition has worsened considerably since 2020 when we all stopped moving because of lockdown and I have yet to fully recover.

    Thankfully I have not had to interview outside my current company, but about a year and a half ago we went through a reorg and I had to interview for my current position. My manager is the absolute nicest, most understanding and lovely manager I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for…and you had best believe I white-knuckled it through that (thankfully video) interview and did not use my oxygen, and did not whisper even a hint of my disability until the offer letter was signed. If I lose my job, I lose my health insurance, and that’s a death sentence for me.

    Welcome to the good ol’ US of A.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Bloody hell, I didn’t realise the potential consequences of you guys tying health insurance to your jobs. The consequences of disability here can be poverty, which is grotesquely unfair, but not death.

      I hope that 2024 is the year you make a full recovery.

  35. Have you had enough water today?*

    Pregnancy is protected & you have no obligation to let them know. People will be angry with you, your new colleagues will be pissy but they will get over it if you are good at your job.

    You absolutely know that there is a 99% chance that you will not get the job if you disclose before the contracts are signed so, as someone who has worked in recruitment before, I advise against disclosing until your baby bump starts to be too big to hide.

  36. S*

    I personally wouldn’t say anything until you have the job and have started. Ideally at least a few weeks or a month into the job. Especially since it is so early you absolutely wouldn’t want to disclose while you were in the first trimester (except for certain industries where you need to inform asap for safety). There is no benefit to any party to disclosing early, you put yourself at risk for discrimination and the company could miss out on your skills solely because they had some bias against pregnant women.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Did you read Alison’s response? If you wait until you are hired, you have no opportunity to negotiate for any kind of benefits or accommodations.

      The time to disclose is after they make the job offer. They legally can’t withdraw it at that point and you can then negotiate for what you need. Once you’ve accepted and are working, you’re stuck.

  37. TG*

    No way would I say anything until you’ve started and you could easily say that you didn’t bring it up because you are a higher risk for miscarriage. Be very matter of fact and line up a plan for while you are out – of the jobs been open for months having you kick start the team in the position and then leave for three months should be fine.

  38. ijustworkhere*

    I would disclose at the time of the offer and make sure you get all the agreements in writing.
    WHY? Your employer (in many states) is not legally required to offer you any more leave other than what you have accrued at the time you take the leave. I have no idea what kind of position you are considering–or the size of the organization— but I’ve seen some employers be very hard nosed about this. I live in a state where labor laws are abysmal!

    I know someone who went back to work when her baby was less than 2 weeks old because that was all the leave she had accrued, and the organization’s policies stated that taking leave without pay was not allowed without prior written authorization and could result in disciplinary action.

    Again, just make sure you get all the agreements in writing before you start and be as detailed as possible.

  39. Pikachu*

    I revealed I was pregnant shortly after a job offer. I was looking because I needed better benefits.

    The pregnancy did not make it to term, so everything I worried about became a nonissue about a month after my start date.

    I hate to be the Debbie Downer of the group but I don’t think people should avoid looking for, interviewing, or accepting job offers because of a pregnancy. Anything can happen and things don’t always turn out the way you plan.

  40. Whomst*

    I interviewed a few times while pregnant, and have interviewed once since as a new mother. I know that I don’t want to come in to a new position and pull something like that on my new boss, because while it’s illegal to discriminate against pregnancy, it’s not illegal to discriminate for poor performance because of sleep deprivation and dealing with the “normal” postpartum recovery. (And yeah, with the length of maternity leave in the US, you are still very much dealing with postpartum recovery stuff by the time you go back to work, even if you get the “generous” 12 weeks. They’re not going to extend your short term disability just because you’re still peeing yourself when you laugh and having hormonal mood swings, but it sure does make life harder.) I got really close to offers a few times, but I started asking specific details about maternity leaves and if they offer anything like a phased return to work, and they suddenly became a lot less interested. My current job is at a company that treats its employees well with good coworkers and work I don’t really like making stuff that I consider a complete waste of money. If it was a different situation and I really needed a job, maybe that would have changed my calculus in how thoroughly I hid my pregnancy/new mom status, but as it is I opened the door to illegal discrimination because I considered it a screening tool for whether they would actually be good to work for in my current situation.

  41. RadLaw*

    I’m going through this right now at eight months pregnant. I’m currently in a grant-dependent position that runs out just as my parental leave ends. So I am hoping to start a new role right after. The positions I’m hiring for are remote, and no one can tell I’m pregnant over Zoom. Many of these are tiny nonprofits that aren’t FMLA-eligible, and their leave policies are not posted anywhere online. One hiring manager asked me the soonest I could start, and I hedged, saying I had several “projects” to finish up and my ideal start date is the end of summer. They clearly want someone to start sooner. I’m crossing my fingers that answer didn’t cut me out of the running, and I am hoping I can negotiate a late start date once/if I do get an offer. I turned down a role a couple of years ago with my first pregnancy, because the board would only provide a new hire with 8 weeks of leave. I’m glad I did turn it down, as it turned out my baby had a lengthy NICU stay, and I would not have been able to return to work that quickly.

  42. Know your rights*

    Fewer than 15 employees:

    If a business has fewer than 15 employees (counting anyone who works for the business, performing services for pay, for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year), it is not covered by any employment law relating to pregnancy or disability, and the business would be free to handle the situation in any way it deems appropriate. Of course, a business not covered by such laws would still want to treat its employees as fairly and consistently as possible, if for no other reason than to minimize complaints, unnecessary turnover, and the risk of unfavorable publicity. Businesses with 15 or more employees should see the comments below.

  43. Anonymous Today*

    I’m late to this, but I agree with the much maligned CastielNeedsHisOwnShow*.

    I am a Second Wave feminist and support women whether they want to have children or not and whether they want to be SAHMs or go back to the job after maternity leave.

    However, I don’t like the idea of lying. Telling someone you will be available to do X, Y, and Z for the next 6 months when you know you will be out on maternity leave for half that time is a lie and to me it’s no different from hiring someone to do a job that requires physical labor who then advises they have a broken leg or have to wear a back brace for the next 3 months.

    What else will this employee be dishonest about if they feel the need? Maybe if they are short one month they will be able to justify “borrowing” from the company to pay their mortgage because it isn’t fair that they can’t make ends meet.

    If someone lies about something as fundamental as being able to the job when they cannot, then I would have a hard time trusting them in the future.

    Note: This is very different from accepting that people will lie or steal because they are desperate. I would never begrudge someone who did this and told me afterwards that if they hadn’t lied and gotten the job that they would have been living on the street while pregnant.

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