For a variety of reasons, many women find themselves interviewing for jobs during their pregnancy. Maybe they were wrongfully terminated—it’s shockingly common—after they shared news of their pregnancy with their past employer, or maybe they are looking for a more stable, better-paying job to support their growing family. Whatever the reason, you are well within your rights to interview for jobs during your pregnancy.
Even so, this experience can be nerve-wracking. Many people assume employers won’t hire pregnant employees. In addition, remote interviews have become normal, which creates a whole new set of fraught issues as employers can no longer tell you’re pregnant by looking at you. Here’s what you need to know.
Take a Deep Breath & Know the Law Prohibits Failure to Hire Based on Pregnancy
First, know that it violates both State and federal law when employers refuse to hire you because of your pregnancy. Some employers break the law; others don’t. Many of our clients approached the process with great skepticism and hesitation—after all, they’re our clients because they experienced discrimination, and reasonably feared experiencing it again. But despite this apprehension, many were able to find work before giving birth.
Second, remain optimistic but vigilant. If you’re asked about your reproductive plans, gently deflect the comment and immediately write down the question you were asked and your response. These are called “contemporaneous notes,” and they’re good evidence if you believe you were wrongfully discriminated against in your job search.
If you are asked about your reproductive plans, keep an eye out on who is hired for positions by looking on company websites and LinkedIn. Save copies of profiles for people who were hired over you. If they are objectively less qualified than you, it’s possible you could make out a claim for discrimination based on failure to hire.
So You Got a Job – When Do You Share the News?
In general, we recommend sharing the news sooner rather than later, with a few big caveats:
- Never disclose until you have a formal job offer in writing
- If you have a work milestone, like a 90-day review, it may be better to wait and get a good review before disclosing your pregnancy (rather than allowing them to paper over their discrimination by saying you are doing poorly)
You must share your intention to take leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law at least 30 days before you plan to take leave, if feasible. (If there’s an emergency, that’s fine. You don’t need to be psychic.)
This was never an issue before remote work became the norm, as most people are visibly pregnant well before they intend to take leave. Now, though, we hear from employees who have not disclosed their pregnancies well into their second trimester—and sometimes third trimester. This is legally allowed. Just keep in mind that employers may get salty and resent employees who sit on important information like a long-planned leave—so if you are trying to pave the way to a long future at the company, it may be best to be more proactive.
What Leave Rights Do I Have if I Start a New Job During My Pregnancy?
If you live or work in California, you may be entitled to leave under the Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Unfortunately, if you are a new employee, you will not be eligible for either the CFRA or FMLA when you give birth, as both laws require you to have worked for 1 year and 1,250 hours in order to qualify.
Fortunately, you are eligible for up to four months of Pregnancy Disability Leave, as needed per your doctor’s certification, no matter how long you have worked for the employer. Most doctors will certify women as disabled for 4 weeks prior to their estimated due date and at least 6 weeks after their estimated due date. This leave is partially paid through the State EDD assuming you had SDI deductions from your paycheck in the 5 to 18 month period before your leave. You also may be entitled to more than four months’ leave if your doctor says you need it for a pregnancy-related disability.
If you live or work in New York, you are eligible for job-protected Paid Family Leave (PFL) if you have worked for 26 consecutive week and regularly work more than 20 hours a week. You also may be entitled to leave as a reasonable accommodation under the New York City Human Rights Law or the New York State Human Rights Law, both of which require accommodations for disabilities, including pregnancy-related disabilities.
Both Pregnancy Disability Leave in California and Paid Family Leave in New York are job-protected, meaning you cannot be fired or retaliated against for taking leave.
Talk to an Experienced Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
Pregnancy discrimination is rampant and data shows it significantly contributes to economic inequality that can persist for the rest of your career. We are one of the only law firms in the country with a highly specialized, expert team that focuses on pregnancy and family status discrimination cases. We know how stressful it can be to navigate complicated leave and accommodation laws while you’re pregnant or taking care of an infant or young child. That's why we're so passionate about what we do.
If you believe you've been illegally discriminated against or denied leave, we are here for you. Contact us today through our website or give us a call at (213) 214-3757 to find out how we may be able to help.