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Pregnancy and Job Interviews in the Legal Profession

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Gypsy

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My friend is 2 years out of lawschool, she is just finishing a clerkship with a state court judge in NJ. She graduated a very good school, with a good GPA, and did DOJ in DC internships in the summers. She''s got good references and a good work ethic (we used to work together before her clerkship).

She just found out she 7 weeks pregnant and she''s interviewing.

My advice was to not say anything AT ALL during interviewing, and then once she has a FIRM offer letter tell them that its a possibility that she''s pregnant.

What do you all think??

The legal proffesion continues to be a male dominated one, and one that is VERY time consuming and demanding. In NJ billable hours are 2100 a year still I believe.

I know she would LOVE a job at the DOJ and she has some decent contacts there, but nothing has happened to date and she''s looking into firms.

Advice?

They own a nice condo, and her BVF just got a promotion at his job at Princeton University, so they are a bit fixed geographically.
 

Independent Gal

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There is absolutely NO reason for her to tell them she is pregnant. That is NONE of their business. Absolutely not. No way. If she wants to know about their maternity leave policy, she can ask when she has a firm on paper offer. Otherwise, she can let them know a couple of months before she''s due (of course, they''ll have noticed by then!) or whenever their policy suggests she should give notice.

Telling them she''s pregnant might very well jeopardize her chances of getting a position, or it might not. But given an employer has no right to know, why take the risk? We''ve hired three people over the last two years who turned out to be pregnant. None of them said anything at the interview, and no one has ever minded about that or thought ''She should have told us!'' It was none of our business. The only thing anyone said was ''Congratulations!'' when we found out.

And anyway, at 7 weeks pregnant, many people don''t tell even their friends and family since you''re not really ''out of the woods'' until 12 weeks or so.

IMHO.
 

poptart

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I would just worry with her BVF (?) getting a promotion, and her going into a difficult career right away if there would be someone to take care of the child. I'm not saying that she has to do it, but it's just something she might want to consider. If it were me, I wouldn't be interviewing at all, but it kind of seems like telling them she's pregnant after she has the job even though she already knows seems kind of deceptive. Technically they wouldn't be able to turn her down just because of her pregnancy, right?

*M*

ETA: You should probably just ignore my post, haha. Independent Gal would know a lot more about it then I would, for sure. I'm surprised that they weren't expected to say anything at the interview. I know it's personal, but it's a BIG personal thing, you know? I guess that is actually good though because then the interviewer doesn't become biased based on your pregnancy... which makes sense!
 

Gypsy

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BF not BVF. .typo! I''ve had a lot of those as I"m in such a hurry these days. Nose to grindstone and all. Sorry for the confusion.
 

rockzilla

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I agree, there is no reason to say anything. However, I think if she is comparing different potential firms, she should ask them about things like work/life balance, benefits, etc. Just generally speaking. This is a good idea for when she makes her final decision, because she will want to get an idea of the culture to know what once she is in the job people will be supportive of her.

And quite honestly, it isn''t their business until she is working there.
 

zoebartlett

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A bit of a tricky situation, huh? I wouldn''t say anything though. Not yet anyway. Besides the 3 month ''rule'' of not sharing the good news, I don''t think it''s something to be shared AT a job interview.
 

ladykemma

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i''m going to play devils advocate.

if i were an employer, i would be pissed to learn that i had just hired someone who:
1. was going to be out for 3-6 month and that I had to hire a temp. and pay her medical insurance and benefits for that time.
2. that you were deceptive during the interview, "Oh, by the way..."
3. baby is sick, you''re out all the time.

if it were me, i would just stay out until after the baby was born, found good child care or, best of all, found something half time. i personally think that families work best when momma works half time. that way she keeps her career and licence afloat, and keeps her skills current.

it seems that this is a good time for them to marry so she can be on his insurance.

ok, flame away.
 

Independent Gal

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Poptart - legally, employers are definitely not allowed to take that kind of thing into account - whether you''re married, whether you have or will be having kids. However, particularly when there''s a likely pool of highly qualified candidates, it can be taken into account ''unofficially'' if you know what I mean. There would be no way to prove that that was the reason she didn''t get the job, if the person who DOES get the job is roughly equally qualified (as often happens in those kinds of jobs). There was an infamous case while I was doing my graduate work of someone applying for a faculty position and someone on the hiring committee inadvertantly left his list of ''pros and cons'' lying around. A ''con'' was that this candidate was of child bearing age and might want maternity leave. Sure it''s illegal, but if he hadn''t been stupid and left that list in the faculty lounge (or wherever it was) no one ever would have known he''d taken that into account. YUCK!

In terms of it being deceptive, I think that would be so only if it was a piece of information they were entitled to, but since they are legally barred from taking it into account, I don''t think they would be.

Hopefully, her new employer or her husband''s employer will have a good parental leave policy, or at least on site day care.
 

Independent Gal

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Ladykemma, this isn''t a flame, but just to point out that some careers don''t allow you to do this. If you leave or aren''t in it full time, you''re toast and there''s no coming back. If you can see yourself changing careers, that''s one thing. But if it''s a vocation and what you''ve always wanted to do, and spent years training for, that can be seriously tough. I just wish this country had more generous laws about parental leave. Most Western countries let you take a full year of parental leave while having your job protected. I find it funny that in this country of ''family values'' you can only take a few weeks.

But I totally get the point about how expensive and inconvenient it can be for an employer! Absolutely. I don''t pretend to know the answers, and I definitely see both sides of the question.
 

ladykemma

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if it were me, then i would seek a position with a huge firm or organization or government job, that could absorb this expense and leave without much problem. i would not wish to inflict this, say, on a five person firm.
 

neatfreak

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They are not allowed by law to ask her if she''s expecting to have kids soon, and that''s on the books because otherwise women would often be discriminated against. She has no reason to tell them IMO.
 

goldenstar

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I also think that she should not say anything about the pregnancy during the interview for the reasons that Independent Gal discussed. She doesn''t even have to say anything when she gets an offer, she can wait until she feels the time is right. Its true that it would cause expense to employers and maybe hassle during the time of maternity leave, but i think that women should not have to be disadvantaged by their pregnancies. It just doesn''t seem fair to me.
 

San Diego Bride

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this is a no-brainer for me... she shouldn''t divulge this during her interview. why give someone a chance to discriminate? and as far as staying out until the baby is born and she has good child care and all that, let''s just assume that this presumably intelligent woman in a committed relationship has already thought this through and believes that this is the best decision for her and her family and leave it at that.
 

njc

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Another vote for not saying anything. As others have mentioned she has no legal obligation to share this information and opens herself to having this information "unoffically" taken into consideration. I think you can argue forever on whether or not it is right...

I am currently 3.5 months pregnant and have yet to tell my company. I agree that it should be done when she feels the time is right (as I have chosen) and I will also throw out there (I certainly do not wish this upon her though!) that there is always a chance for a miscarriage. The longer she waits, the longer she has to prove herself and establish her pregnancy.

Also, according to FMLA (i think i am getting this right!), one parent is allowed to take leave, or a combination not to exceed the maximum according to federal or state guidelines. So the father could stay home (since he is a little more established), or they could do a half and half. Certainly she would want to take some time to recover, but just wanted to throw that out there.

I wish her luck!
 

VegasAngel

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Only 7 weeks into her pregnancy? I wouldnt say anything. We all know employers cant descriminate but the majority of employers probably wont hire a pregnant woman for all the reasons Ladykemma mentioned. Obviously they''re not going to tell a woman that, they will just pick "A more qualified applicant."
 

gail013

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I think it depends if she is sure she would continue to work after the baby is born full time. I think it''s kind of crappy to assume that an emplyer, although they can not ask about it, would be happy to assume that she may take 6weeks plus off and never return, or return only part time. It would take away from someone else''s opportunity, and cost the company money.

If she thinks she will want to work full time regardless of having a child or not, than I say go for it.
 

luvinlife

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Date: 4/5/2007 7:26:22 PM
Author: ladykemma
i''m going to play devils advocate.

if i were an employer, i would be pissed to learn that i had just hired someone who:
1. was going to be out for 3-6 month and that I had to hire a temp. and pay her medical insurance and benefits for that time.
2. that you were deceptive during the interview, ''Oh, by the way...''
3. baby is sick, you''re out all the time.

if it were me, i would just stay out until after the baby was born, found good child care or, best of all, found something half time. i personally think that families work best when momma works half time. that way she keeps her career and licence afloat, and keeps her skills current.

it seems that this is a good time for them to marry so she can be on his insurance.

ok, flame away.
Anytime that an employer hires a female there is a chance that she might be pregnant of might become pregnant (unless of course she cannot due to age or other pathological situations). Things such as age, matrimonial status, number of children do not need to be divulged during an interview, and it is illegal to ask any of the aforementioned questions. Perhaps due to some peoples economic situation, the are able to wait until the baby is born, found childcare, and put themselves back together emotionally and physically, but many other cannot.
But these are just my two cents......
 

Fed

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Apr 7, 2007
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I''m a lawyer in a Federal Government legal office. From my point of view...she should not say anything (nor is she obliged to, as already stated). If she interviews for a Federal job in NJ, chances are the office is pretty small. The office may not be amenable to the idea of someone taking off a large amount of time less than a year after being hired. If they like her, they''d hire her anyway, but it would be considered a negative.

She may want to consider benefits from the Federal perspective though. The Federal Government does not offer paid maternity leave, so she would be on her own for saving up sick and annual leave. As a new employee, she would only earn 4 hours per pay period (13 days annually) leave (unless her prior internships would grant her extra time). I also think that you have to be employeed for a full year before FMLA applies (but I don''t practice employment law, so I could be wrong).

Also, the only agencies that received full fiscal year 2007 appropriations were DHS and DOD. Thus, most agency aren''t hiring much. It would probably be easier for her to find a private sector job.

Just some thoughts.
 

poptart

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It all still seems deceptive to me. Getting hired with the "chance" of getting pregnant, is different than getting hired, being pregnant, and omitting the fact that you would be needing X number of days off in a certain amount of months. But I think a huge factor, as others have said, is the type of office she is going to be in. It even annoys me that I think this because I consider myself a feminist, and so I feel like I should be agreeing that she shouldn''t say anything... but that just seems like a very important fact that shouldn''t be omitted.

*M*
 

KimberlyH

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The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which is a federal act, covers "An employer covered by FMLA is any person engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce, who employs 50 or more employees for each working day during each of 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year." And, the employee mustbe eligible "IN GENERAL.--The term "eligible employee" means an employee who has been employed (i) for at least 12 months by the employer with respect to whom leave is requested under section 102; and (ii) for at least 1,250 hours of service with such employer during the previous 12-month period. " Your friend should take this into consideration when job hunting as she will have been with whatever company hires her less than the 12 months required to be considered elligible when she delivers, which could affect her job status.

I agree that it isn''t the employers business that she is pregnant, but she also needs to look fruther into federal and state law regarding her rights as an employee and determine if it is in her best interest to share her pregnancy w/ potential employers to determine what they will do when she has to take an LOA. Some employers are extremely generous as it is their goal to attract and keep talent, others are more driven by the bottom line and won''t be as generous.
 
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