S.H. asks from Minneapolis, MN on April 14, 2010
Pregnant and Losing My job....help.
Let's remember I'm pregnant and due to a whirlwind of recent events my emotions are on red alert. Please, I'm asking for advise and help, nothing judgmental or what I obviously already know.
Almost a year and half ago my company transferred me over 300 miles to work on site as a account representative. While being out here my boyfriend and I got pregnant. I'm 22 weeks along now and just found out yesterday they are changing around mine and my bosses role. In the end, we were told that my boss (who is also onsite, being laid off) is overqualified for the new role and I am under qualified. I think it's wrong since the role that is being created is essentially my role without a onsite manager. I’m really confused. I’m half mad at my company and feel personally attacked because I’m pregnant and working onsite at one of their customers. Isn’t a law they can’t fire you? The other half of me feels freed. I can take on other passions in my life. I use to be a retail manager and LOVED it. It just didn’t pay well since I never officially became a store manager. I really want to go back into retail but again…being pregnant? I don’t know if it’s something I’ll be able to handle and if a company will want to hire me when I have to go on maternity leave in less than 4 months. I’m a Mary Kay representative and I’m going to give it a good go. I know when I work hard at it I can support myself with it. I just never have been able to with a full time job that’s very demanding.
Out of everything I’m most worried about insurance and being able to afford our rent and other needs. Employers typically do not offer insurance immediatly. I’m most confident in myself that I can get another job. If I can get an interview I can get the job. I’m a very hard worker and have many talents and employers want and need today. My company did say they would provide me with time to an agency to help me get my resume in order and get it out there. I’m allowed 30 hours and if I need more time they will do what they can to get it. It’s funny, they are putting this humane spin on it like, “ugh, I’m so sorry, but we are going to do everything we can” but I personally feel like it’s just corporate BS, SAYING they’ll help, but will they??
I have couple of questions:
What should I be asking my company in regards to the lay off?
What kind of severance/insurance packages do you think I could ask for and am entitled to?
Should I drag out any sort of blame towards the layoff regarding me being pregnant? I'm AM more than qualified for this 'new' role. They are unwilling say why I am not.
If so, HOW?
What else should I be thinking about going into a conversation to my company?
Please keep in mind, they (leadership) have HR wrapped around their fingers. It’s no use at this time to get them involved, they already ‘are’.
Thank you for any and all help!
S.W. answers from Minneapolis on April 15, 2010
I'm sorry you are going through this. I work for an outplacment company and am a career coach for people going through job change. So, several points:
You have the right to retain an attorney to negotiate a severance package if you feel that would help, most attorneys will give you a free consultation so that you can decide.
Your company can lay you off while you are pregnant, the laws in MN allow employers and employees to end an employment agreement at any time for any, or no, reason. Descrimination law suits are extremely difficult to prove.
You will want to leave on OK terms as a new employer will likely want a reference from this company.
You will qualify for medical coverage under the COBRA laws, your employer is required to provide this information to you, your medical insurance and coverage will stay the same as now, you will need to pick up more of the cost. This coverage can stay in place until a new employer can cover you. Pregnancy is NOT a "pre-existing condition" that will prevent new insurance from covering those costs.
Companies do hire women who are pregnant.
The agency that your employer is supplying should help you build a resume that talks about your accomplishments and results, not just job tasks. They should also help you practice a 30-second Commercial introduction, and a Reason for Leaving statement that lets you answer the question "Why did you leave?" in an unemotional, factual, positive manner. They should help you strategize, run a proactive job search, and prepare for interviewing. If you can't do this in 30 hours, push for more time, or more services.
Keep in mind that the Minnesota Work Force centers also provide job search assistance. The Dislocated Worker Program has a budget for training if there are any skills you feel you could benefit by brushing up on.
Contact me if you have any more questions, and I would be glad to review your resume and give feedback for no charge.
Good luck and hang in there!
1 mom found this helpful
K.H. answers from Minneapolis on April 15, 2010
stand your ground-do not leave until they force you out-then they have to pay in full-in the mean time contact your state-report what their doing-however in this day an age-they can fire you for no reason and no warning-its their right-but id hang tough-keep doing your job an smile all the while-and if they choose to let you go-get it in writing why-then go collect unemployment-get ins.thru the state-they make preg.women a children a priority.good luck
H.J. answers from Minneapolis on April 14, 2010
You probably have nothing to go for against the company if you are under qualified for the position being pregnant doesn't mean anything. You can't just use a pregnancy as an excuse to fight a company for being laid off. I was pregnant when my hubby was laid off he couldn't use it as an excuse. You can try and fight but with this economy good luck....Pregnant or not people are getting laid off left and right!
J.L. answers from Minneapolis on April 14, 2010
Unfortunately, on face value, and from what you share, you probably don't have a case against your company. If you truly aren't qualified for the job, there really isn't much you can do.
However, if you have any proof of discrimination being an underlying cause for not being considered for this position, you may have a case...but you'll also have your work cut out for you. And hiring an attorney will be very costly upfront, long before you recoup any money.
If it was public knowledge that you were pregnant at the time of your firing, you may have a case. If your employer/supervisors referenced your pregnancy as being a reason you aren't qualified to do your job or aren't eligible for consideration of any other job within the company, you might have a case. However, the burden will be on you to prove that your layoff was indeed because of your pregnancy.
Considering your supervisor is getting fired too, you will be hard pressed to prove it is because of your condition, and not because they are changing direction with your department or the overall operation of your company. Race, age, and sexual harrassment (overlooked because you're female or mistreated because of your sex) of course would be causes .
You might be better off looking over the terms of your contract (if you have one) with your company. Considering they moved you to a new location for this position, was there any promise of training, a timeline of training, and then a clear-cut layout of expectations? What about regular performance reviews? Do you have records of these performance reviews and do they detail your skills and growth on the job? Is there any other information that would point to a breach of an agreement on the part of your company with you concerning your new job such as a promise of continuing education to make you viable to the company and your job?
If they have failed to follow-through on any policies or contractual agreements you may have a case.
The best way to find out if you have a case or your case is worthy of court action, you should contact an attorney who specializes in employment law. As for conversations with employers and especially co-workers (who are often enlisted to build a case against you if they suspect a lawsuit) about your layoff, etc. should be minimal to non-existant, and if necessary, purposeful if you do think they have violated the law. Any and all documentation on your part can be used against you. So be very careful about all correspondence, e-mail and conversations from here on out. Likewise, you should keep careful records of any and all correspondence as well in a safe place, and offsite, so if after you leave, you have them if you need them (for legal purposes or otherwise).
Lastly, but most important: CAREFULLY EVALUATE WHETHER LEGAL ACTION IS WORTH IT! If you work in a very specialized field or the pond where you work is very small, you may burn a lot of bridges. You may win the battle, but lose the war if you go to court. Just be careful and really carefully weigh whether going to court is worth it. It might be easier to just ride it out, chalk the place up to being a dump, and move on to greener pastures. Think about what you hope to gain by suing. If you do keep your job as part of a settlement, consider how hostile the environment will be thereafter. If you settle without a job, you may have a chunk of money, but your name might be mud in your industry, or you may lack references and important connections for future work. Just be careful. You're young and now you have a family to support.
Regardless if you have a case or not you should do the following:
You won't be eligible for severance unless this was part of your employment agreement from the beginning. You can however, apply for unemployment which will mostly provide about half your monthly income up to 6 months (unless things have changed ...you might want to check. with MN Work Force)
If you have health insurance with your current employer, apply for COBRA coverage (extension of health benefits for period of time past your employment). You will have to pay for this continued insurance coverage, but costs will be significantly less than if you had no coverage at all.
Be prepared to be asked to leave immediately without warning and without notice. Consider your last day, could be any day and at any moment. Especially if you have the sort of job where you have access and knowledge of products or collateral that would be useful to a competitor...or they feel your presence could jeopardize the company legally speaking. Many employers will just ask you to leave, and not give you time to get items out of your office or to say goodbyes.
With that said, if there is any paper work or projects that you need or want to keep for a portfolio, be sure you have copies of what you need now. Be sure you have references from supervisors and employers now, so that you have them when applying for a new job.
Be careful however, not to take anything that can be construed as your company's property (intellectual or otherwise) such as software, documents, etc. They could use this against you, and take legal action.
As for looking for employment while pregnant...very challenging. Depending on the type of work you do, many may be hesitant to hire you if they need someone who can put in long hours. For many the prospect of losing someone for 6 weeks right off the bat may be a deterent.
Other potential employers are leary of people taking advantage of them for insurance coverage, only to never return to work.
It doesn't hurt to apply places. But if there is a company you really want to work at, I think I'd wait to apply until after the baby unless you know for certain they are very mama/baby friendly. Unfortunately, in this economy, there probably is a shortage of that.
In the interim, consider working for a temp agency or on a free-lance basis to give yourself flexibility (maternity leave won't be an issue), maintain contacts in your field, and a stream of income. For many, temp work can turn into full-time work.
Read books on how to price your services so that you will be able get self-employment insurance and are able to afford the cost of running your own business. Who knows, you may like being on your own so much, this might be your second career.