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Hello everyone,

I am seeking advice on navigating the job interview process in the event that my role is eliminated due to COVID-related budget cuts, while approximately 6-10 weeks away from delivering identical twins. 

Questions:

  1. If I am fired before my maternity leave, how do I approach my situation in interviews?
  2. Do I disclose my pregnancy information and timeline uncertainty right off the bat?
  3. Knowing discrimination is illegal, do you think anyone would really consider me "hireable" given my situation?
  4. Is there anything else I should consider, or do you have any additional advice for me?

Here's the background:

- I had been searching for a new job outside of my current company over the summer primarily due to job dissatisfaction. I paused my job search when I learned that I am pregnant with twins because I didn’t think it would be a good time to start a relationship with a new employer.

- My poor relationship with my boss has been a driver of my job dissatisfaction. While we had a great relationship while working together for over a year prior (collaborative, effective, enjoyable - she even advocated for my promotion), our relationship changed drastically when she took on more significantly responsibility after the departure of our old VP and I started reporting directly to her. Since then, she refuses to provide me feedback (even though I request it regularly), she has become very negative in team communication, and I get the impression that she no longer trusts my abilities or output. How I WISH she listened to Manager Tools (e.g. we just started doing “weekly updates” at my suggestion because we never had regular one-on-ones).

- My pregnancy is high risk (post-laser ablation surgery for Stage 2 TTTS in case anyone is familiar with mo/di pregnancy complications). While I hope to make it to mid-late January, it's very possible that I could go into labor in early December, if not sooner. 

- My current employer, including my boss, are aware of my pregnancy and the associated complications. I notified my boss and HR of my pregnancy relatively early, at approximately 8 weeks in the end of June. This is about 4-5 weeks sooner than what is considered “normal”.

- Today I told my boss that I would like to talk about what my role might look like when I return from maternity leave as she had said to our team that "several things are changing, including our team's role in sales support," which is primarily my responsibility. Her response was, "Leadership is still doing budgeting and they give me a new number every day. At this point, it's been such a bad year, I have no idea what budget I'll have, or what staff I'll have. So I can't tell you that right now. There will be personnel decisions to make." Honestly, I have incorrectly interpreted her messages multiple times over the last 6 months because she is often cryptic and doesn’t always elaborate (even when follow up questions are asked), so it’s hard for me to get a good read on this message. The way she said it, though, does have me worried about my role being on the chopping block when these personnel decisions are made.

- At minimum, I intend to take the full paid 12 weeks provided by my company. And depending on the health of the twins and their time spent in NICU, I may take additional unpaid leave.

- I will return to the workforce after leave. My plan is to return to my current role and then make a decision on whether I want to look for a new job (perhaps some space from my role and my boss will be good for everyone, and maybe things will look very different after a few months away. If there’s one thing I’ve learned during COVID, it’s that things can change quickly!)

- Ideally, I would not be looking for a new job right now given the uncertainties in timing I explained above, but I may not have a choice. 

Thank you, all, for your guidance. 

Best,

Noelle

 

 

Chris Zeller's picture

Hi Noelle,

My wife and I welcomed our son earlier this year, just as COVID was spiking. Our health insurance comes from her employer and she was furloughed shortly after he was born. You've got a lot on your plate. I'm assuming that you're based in the US. In response to your questions:

1. Transparency and integrity are unimpeachable. There's a difference between getting fired and being laid-off. And many people are losing their roles as a result of the virus, not due to their performance. As you interview, acknowledge the reality, state whatever happens matter-of-factly, do NOT bash your boss or organization, and focus on performing well in the interview.

2. The risk of disclosing everything immediately is that you scare people off or put the focus on your pregnancy rather than your ability to do the job and interview well. On the other hand, you don't want to to be accused of "hiding" your pregnancy. An appropriate time is probably after you've gotten past the recrutiing screens and are interviewing directly with the hiring manager.

3. Overt discrimination is illegal and pregnancy is a protected class in the US. Reality, alas, is full of examples where people and organizations have found other, non-protected reasons for declining to hire. Much of that is out of your control and dependent on the ethics and professionalism of other people.

4. Yes.

A. Document everything. Bosses and organizations who are on the up-and-up won't have a problem commiting to things in writing and exchanging emails. Print hard copies and be prepared for the worst case scenario -- that you lose your job and access to internal systems.

B. Consider consulting a labor attorney. Most offer free 15 minute consults. If you can afford it, it might be worth a few hundred dollars to understand the particulars of FMLA and any state-specific laws.

C. You didn't mention a spouse or partner. If there is such a person and they have a job and are eligible for benefits, you losing your job is almost certainly a "qualifying event." COBRA is massivley expensive and it's worth the time to understand what the process is to put you and/or the babies on a partner's employer-sponsored plan. It's also worth seeing if open enrollment for 2021 is still active.

D. Keep searching. Plan for the worst and control what you can control by continuting to appy and interview.

E. Warm up your network if you haven't already and start reaching out to people.

I wish you a safe delivery, minimal complications, and as much mental peace as you can find.

Chris

 

vwelch's picture

Nothing to add to Chris' response besides to express my sympathies that you have so much to deal with right now. I wish you nothing but the best.

Von

ZITTER's picture

I agree, sympathy is very important.