So I have this friend…

…and no, it’s not me.  I know that most stories that begin that way tend to be nothing but a shallow cover by an uncreative person for his or her own doings.  This is not a story about me, but I’d love to hear your suggestions on how to handle this situation.

If you’re looking for my Wordless Wednesday post, it is below this one.


I’ve mentioned this person before.  In fact, she is the one for whom I was crocheting the baby blanket (not yet blocked, but will be ready by Saturday).  Let me give you the story.  I will call her Chloe (since I’m still on a ‘C’ kick) instead of her real name.

About 4 months ago Chloe was let go from her previous job, a job at which she had worked for nearly two years with very positive progress reports.  She was about 3 months pregnant at the time.  She was told the day she was fired that the reason for this seemingly incongruous decision on the part of management was that she was not performing up to par, unexpected, to be sure, since she had just received a 5 star review a few short days before.  Naturally, she thought it was no coincidence that her boss had just found out that she was pregnant.  Needless to say, when she left the job in search of another one Chloe also contemplated opening a law suit for wrongful termination.  However, since Chloe is a very driven woman she wasted no time in finding other employment.  Within less than a week she found her current situation.

Last night I received a phone call from a very stressed out pregnant woman.  She had been informed at work that since she has not been with the company all that long she is not guaranteed any paid vacation time, holiday time, or sick leave. He employer then denied the fact that she knew Chloe was pregnant when she hired her and explained that since Chloe is going to need sick time after the baby is born and she has no allotted time she will have to take any time as unpaid.  When Chloe explained that she would do everything she could to return to work a day or two after the birth, “as soon as the doctors say I can leave the hospital”, her boss said that wouldn’t work and that they would require her at be absent for at least a week and not return without a written report from her doctor that she could safely work.  The company sees Chloe as a “temporary hire”, although that is not the condition under which Chloe thought she was being hired, and therefore will need to find another “temp” when she is gone.  When Chloe then inquired whether she would have a job after taking time off after the birth of her baby she was told that the company has no immediate plans to hire another employee but that the future is uncertain.

The situation sucks.  There are no two ways around it. She is not in a position in which she can take unpaid time off, or worse yet, lose her job.  Her household is a two person income household.  It needs to be that way.  Chloe is the significant bread winner and by no means can her new family survive on her husband’s pay, not to mention the difficulties she will have with insurance covering her hospital stay during the birth.

We chatted last night for awhile and Chloe informed me that if she is going to get laid off because she has to take sick days which she has not yet accumulated she wants to be proactive and find another job.  Of course, job hunting when one is 7 1/2 months pregnant is tricky to say the least.  Although technically someone can not refuse to hire a woman because she is pregnant, you can guarantee that any potential employer will come up with any number of other excuses.

So, last night I spent an hour or so searching Craigslist for possible telecommuting opportunities for her.  I also plan to distribute her resume to people I  know in the area.  Obviously, this is not the ideal situation, but Chloe admitted to me that when she took her current job she did so only out of necessity since the pay they offered was far below what she had been receiving.  At this point she is merely looking for a way to continue to pay the bills while she waits for her baby to be born and then takes a week or so to recover from the birth.  After her baby is born she plans to go back out and look for a position more suited to and appreciative of her experience.

I wish I could help her more, but I’m not really sure what I can do.  I would love suggestions/advice from anyone who has experience or even thoughts on this topic.


~ by CableGirl on Wednesday, January 16, 2008.

16 Responses to “So I have this friend…”

  1. That is really, really crappy. I would take a look at federal law on this and see if maybe showing this to her current boss would resolve things until she can find a better situation. Legally, they can’t do that.
    Is she is Florida too? Is that a work at will state? I know in Ga. you can be fired at any time but any reason but basically no recourse. Very shi$tty. Depending on what she does, has she considered a temp. agency? I did that a few times in school and they can usually put you to work right away. Of course, the pay isn’t great. She could file a claim for unemployment to help out temporarily. and FAQs Beyond that, I don’t have any great ideas. As an aside, she should definitely contact her local EEOC office about filing a complaint on the former employer.

  2. That is really really crappy. I wish I had something useful to offer. 😦

  3. How big was the company? If it’s more than 5 or 6 employees, I’m not sure they can legally do what they did. Also, what about COBRA? At the very least she should be able to call and get an extension of her medical that way. This smells very, very illegal to me. Are there any paralegals she can consult?

  4. firstly she is entitled to unemployment from her original job that she was fired from. so go and start collecting. i wouldn’t even mention to them the second job which may not be. She will never find a job 7 months pregant no matter what the law is. nobody will hire her. how about an off the books job- child care etc like Gouzel for us. the main interest is health insurance. Doesn’t her husband have insurance with his job? if so they can add her and they can offer to pay the company the difference just so she is covered.

  5. I think legally, she’s allowed to take up to 12 weeks (unpaid) leave and the company is obligated to keep her job for her. I know the upaid thing doesn’t help, but it would at least allow her to take a week or two and then go back to work, at least until she finds another job. The legislation I’m thinking of is called FMLA, although I’m not sure it holds true if she’s considered temporary or been there less than a year. She should speak to a lawyer about both situations immediately.

    I also think filing an unemployment claim for the short term may help. I can’t believe she has to go back after a week or two. What does she do? My company hires remotely…..not great pay, but something.

  6. I also can’t believe that after 4(?) months she hasn’t accrued any sick/pto days at all. That’s bizarre.

  7. This all sounds incredibly wrong, what little I know. In MA you cannot be let go if you are pregnant. I’ve known women who announced they were 2-3 weeks pregnant when there were layoffs happening because it gave them a magic ball of protection.

    She should investigate COBRA although she would have to pay the full cost (doesn’t sound like that is an option).

    In the end she needs to talk to a lawyer. All the advice from well-meaning bloggers won’t matter much. Gosh – the world su@ks.

  8. That totally sucks! If I were her, I would definitely talk to a lawyer. Another thing I would do is contact my college alumni association because I know when I had some legal questions before, they were able to put me in touch with alumnae who who specialized in that particularly type of law. I also have gotten a ton of career advice from them. I believe that as long as the company consists of at least 50 people (that’s the part I’m not sure of) they are required to give the Family Leave Act but n not required to pay for it. I suspect all it would talk would be a letter from a lawyer to her boss.

  9. All I can do is extend my sympathy and hold back my own rant. I got screwed out of my maternity pay at both jobs for both pregnancies/birth. It is ridiculous that Americans somehow think the profit motive is going to take care of this. Good luck to your friend.

  10. Oh, and as positive as I would like to sound, she does not have a great chance at lawsuits or unemployment. Unless she lives somewhere like MA, most states are “right to work” states, which is a very deceptive term. Should be called “right to fire at will”. If they claim she was fired for performance issues, she would have to prove it was otherwise, which she may be able to do with her positive review. I did win an unemployment case in a similar situation, but it was a long and grueling process. I would suggest she research her states’ unemployment laws. She can only file if she is not working and got fired due to no fault of her own and she did not quit, if the laws are anything like Florida’s.

    As for a lawsuit, she would have to go through the EEOC first. You can not file a lawsuit for discrimination unless you file an EEOC complaint and let them take a hack at it first. I was told I had a fantastic, classic case of pregnancy/maternity discrimination, and then never heard from them for almost a year. Eventually, they told me the company pretty much said “Nuh uh” and they believed them. I got a phone call from a lawyer representing another woman fired from the company, right before her due date. I don’t think it ever went to trial, as I was never called to testify. Let’s hope they settled and she got some money. I couldn’t afford the retainer, so I never hired a private attorney after the EEOC rejected my claim.

    So much for not ranting. Unless this country gets a royal kick in the ass about the way it treats mothers, these stories will just keep piling up.

  11. I’m pretty much echoing what others have said. Scratch mentioning #2 and get EEOC on Job #1, which smells. COBRA is great if you have the money to pay for it, but the rates are exorbitant. She needs to be reinstated with full benefits, under the watchful eye of EEOC. To take the full 12 weeks of FMLA she would have to have been employed there one year. If it was “at will” and they ditched her at 7 months, I think she has a good case. And BTW, if she even thinks of going back to work in 1 week that’s bad. Her body will not be ready and she needs the bonding time. My 2 cents.

  12. I’d echo the others about her getting help from EEOC on Job #1. This is just outrageous treatment all around. Our country sucks right now.

  13. Times haven’t changed much, evidently. I lost my job to a very prejudiced boss, once he found out I was pregnant. I began having problems, probably due to the stress of the situation, and the doctor was concerned I might lose the baby–otherwise my family wanted to go after the company that tossed me out. But emotionally, I couldn’t take the fight right then. Not fair, not fair at all. My sister-in-law once said to me, “If you look over your birth certificate, no where will you find the words ‘life is guarenteed to be fair'”–not a happy thought.

  14. I have no idea on employment law in the states but it sounds like a terrible situation and not one a mother to be should be having to deal with. I really hope she sorts something out. Legal advice would be good as there is definitely something stinky about the way she has been treated. Can she sue for ‘unfair dismissal’?

  15. This all seems very wrong to me too. I think she needs counsel. A little message from a legal power can go a long way to protecting her job, and her sanity.

  16. ??? And then there’s my friend in Europe, who is enjoying her 18 months leave with full pay, and her job back as soon as she’s ready. That’s the law.

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