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A Visit To HR Makes Me Livid

23 Nov

So as I mentioned before, I’m (hopefully) supposed to start teaching film at a private school in my city.

Yesterday, as part of the process, I had a meeting with HR. I had been told that everything I had to do from that point on was pretty much a formality, and the job was essentially mine.

At HR, I was given a medical disclosure form. It asked me basic health questions at first, but towards the bottom, things started to get a little dicey.

First – there was a question about whether I had had any recent surgeries. I lingered there for a moment. Does a D&C count? How detailed do I have to be? Finally I compromised and only wrote down the lap I had in August, without going into detail as to the reason.

At the bottom of the form, there was a question that made me do a double take.

“Are you pregnant? How far along?”

I looked up at the HR woman, and asked her first: “Do I already have the job or is what I’m doing now part of the interview process?”

She answered: “It’s part of the interview process. Why?”

I hesitated again. I pointed at the question.

“Not to make a big deal or anything, but legally, you’re not supposed to ask me this question.”

It’s illegal in Israel to ask a woman about her familial status in the middle of a job interview process.

The HR woman shrugged.

“You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to.”

“But right under it I have to sign and state that I answered all of the questions truthfully.”

“Correct.”

Urgh. I so didn’t want to go here.

“Listen, I’m pregnant, but I’m not very far along, and I’ve had 3 miscarriages, so I can’t be sure that this one will last. Plus, if it does, I’m not due until after the school year.”

“I’m sorry to hear about that. Ok.”

“So what should I do?”

She shrugged.

Another few minutes spent in agony, and I decide to answer honestly. Yes, I am pregnant. Nine weeks along.

When I interviewed initially for the job I didn’t disclose my pregnancy, because I didn’t see it as a relevant piece of information. Because who knows if this will last, and because I’m due in late June, well after the school year is over, and if all goes well I’ll be good as new to start again next September. I figured if I got the job I would disclose sometime next month.

And from what I understood, the job was as good as mine.

Today I get a phone call from the head of the film department at the school.

“Hi there Mo – so listen, my boss (some other not quite principle figurehead who I had already interviewed with twice and who seemed to like me a lot) got a text message today from the head of HR telling her that you’re pregnant.”

My heart sinks a little bit. This woman sounded unhappy. As if this is my fault. As if I lied to her in the interview process. Lovely. I took a deep breath and collected myself.

“Listen, I am pregnant – but this is my fourth pregnancy. I’ve lost three already, and I’m not sure it will last.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear about that.”

“Well, it’s ok. But anyway even if it does I’m due at the end of June so I didn’t think it was relevant. I was planning on telling you once I knew this pregnancy was a sure thing. But again, I’m due at the end of June.”

“Ok – well, in the interview we had asked you about long term commitment to the department.”

“Yes, and I fully intend to commit to you guys for the long haul.”

“So you don’t plan on taking a year off to take care of the baby?”

“No. I have to make a living. I should be good to go by September and my mom is planning on doing child care duty while I work.”

“Oh – ok.”

“And for the record, this is really not how I wanted to disclose this to you guys, but the forms I was made to fill in at HR kind of forced me to.”

“Ok. Well don’t worry, I’ve had two kids while on the job, I don’t think this will influence our decision.”

I’m thinking to myself: “If it does I’ll see you in court.”

On the phone I just say: ” I hope not.”

She continues: “It’s between you and one other guy.”

(Oh really, when did that happen?)

“And I really like you and I want the job to be yours, so we’ll be letting you know in the next couple of days.”

“Ok, great. Thanks!” (I say this through gritted teeth).

Fantastic. A job that was essentially mine is now in jeopardy because I chose to be honest on a stupid medical disclosure form. And now I’m stuck waiting, helpless to do anything about it, and coming across as dishonest because I didn’t shout about my pregnancy during my first interview.

If I don’t get this job I am suing the pants off of these people.

I. Am. Livid.

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41 Responses to “A Visit To HR Makes Me Livid”

  1. me0me November 23, 2011 at 20:09 #

    Jackasses- for having that question there. Hopefully this won’t actually escalate *crossing fingers* *sending good, calming, healthy, positive energy*

  2. AK November 23, 2011 at 20:11 #

    Technically, I think you could have chosen to leave all of the medical questions blank. That’s NONE O’ THEIR BUSINESS as part of an interview process. I am livid for you.

  3. Izzy November 23, 2011 at 20:14 #

    That’s COMPLETE bullshit! Absolutely no way should they be asking you, and you shouldn’t have to feel dishonest because it’s NONE of their business!!! I sure hope they do the right thing because if they don’t you absolutely should sue…..

  4. Jjiraffe November 23, 2011 at 20:17 #

    This seems straight up shady. In the US, firms have been sued for this. Just sayin’.

  5. Elphaba November 23, 2011 at 20:36 #

    You should have lied, pure and simple. Lots of people are nine weeks pregnant and have no idea. Either way, you should be reporting them for even asking you that. Disgraceful! And yah, they can’t ask about other surgeries either. If it’s not relevant to your job, then it’s none of their business.

  6. Rachel @ Eggs In A Row November 23, 2011 at 20:36 #

    Um….are you serious?????????

    Not. Ok.

    • Kelly November 23, 2011 at 20:43 #

      I was thinking all through this “lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit.”

      This is discriminatory practice according to US EEOC laws (not sure where you are). Seriously, the fact that they have a FORM that asks that is really, really stupid on their part.

      The point of questions are to establish if they think you are a good fit for the job, and qualified. This is such a NO NO.

      And yes, I would sue their asses if it were me. Totally.

  7. Connie November 23, 2011 at 20:37 #

    Sue the pants AND skirts of of them !! N what the Hell is the HR lady doing texting or calling someone to SPECIFICALLY point out that you are pregnant? Isn’t that some kind of violation of your medical privacy??? In the U.S. we have HIPPA laws that forbid ANYONE from discussing ANY aspects of your medical history or conditions, without your express WRITTEN permission !!!

  8. Whoismom November 23, 2011 at 20:39 #

    Ummm, HELLLOOOO? ILLEGAL!!!! What utter nonsense! This is exactly why you are NOT allowed to ask these questions in interviews! I’m so sorry Mo, but now I’m livid for you too!

  9. cattiz j November 23, 2011 at 21:08 #

    Yikes, what a situation to be in. I think I would have been good and honest as well. But if you don’t get this job they will be in trouble if not either way! Is it illegal they should know it!

  10. Rebecca November 23, 2011 at 21:56 #

    Those questions shouldn’t even be on the application forms. I’d sue them too if I didn’t get the job.

  11. mothernatureschmature November 23, 2011 at 22:11 #

    That is terrible. With my first pregnancy I got fired for being pregnant. I decided not to persue legal action only because we decided the stress wouldnt be worth the outcome. Now that I am actively looking for a job as well as being in the middle of an FET cycle, I am worried about the exact situation that you are in. I have applied for two contract positions that end at the end of the school year as well as a few full time perm. positions. I wish you the best of luck and hope that they are not total jerk-offs and give you the job! Or, if they are total jerk-offs, if you’re up to it, sue the pants off of them and be glad you didn’t end up working for a bunch of a-holes.

  12. Kelly November 23, 2011 at 22:28 #

    boourns, you were just trying to be honest and bam! Crossing my fingers for you, I would file a complaint if I were you.

  13. RelaxedNoMore November 23, 2011 at 22:36 #

    What a terrible situation.. I would have been majorly pissed, too… They know that what their doing is illegal and still their doing it. If you don’t get the job, you should definitely consider suing them – simply for putting that question on the questionnaire!
    I’m curios: here in Germany, it’s also illegal for a current or prospective employer to ask a woman about her pregnancy status. And even more then that: it’s perfectly legal for us to lie when asked nevertheless: should they ask, and we lie, then they cannot reprimand or even fire us for lying.
    Would you have had the same option?

  14. Natalie November 23, 2011 at 22:52 #

    I would have been tempted to write “it is illegal to ask this question” next to it. Can they even legally ask you about recent surgeries? That seems illegal too.

  15. Mo November 23, 2011 at 23:04 #

    Thanks everyone for the support. From what I can tell it is Illegal to ask the question, though I don’t know what the consequences are for lying about a “medical condition” which I’m sure is what they see pregnancy as. If I don’t get the job, I will be suing the pants off of them. If I do get the job, I’ll file a complaint anyway. It’s completely insane.

    • C November 25, 2011 at 17:40 #

      If you’re serious about suing them or filing a complaint (which would not be wise if you do get and take the job), you should probably delete this blog post. It can very easily be used against you in litigation. Just sayin’…

  16. Katie November 23, 2011 at 23:12 #

    Nothing like a good lawsuit to distract you from pregnancy worries! 🙂 It wouldn’t be stressful at all! 🙂

    The shrugging is the best part. Shouldn’t the HR people know this stuff? I’m really incensed for you today!

  17. robin November 24, 2011 at 00:10 #

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat. I can’t believe HR quickly texted your pregnancy status around. That is the part that really baffles me. Like, ooh, this is juicy gossip. WTF?? I hope you still do get the job but I agree, file a complaint, that is ridiculous.

  18. chon November 24, 2011 at 00:21 #

    Oh my, not a great way to start the day. I am really sorry. I feel that if they asked the question then they can’t discriminate against you for being honest. To me it showed your true character that you wouldn’t lie and this should stand you in good stead. I am sorry though, this is not the way you want to start a potentially fabulous new job. xx

  19. Anna November 24, 2011 at 01:48 #

    This makes me so angry on your behalf!

  20. Kristen November 24, 2011 at 02:02 #

    I am so sorry…this is a horrible situation to be put in. And how tricky…incredible they are asking for such private information before the job is yours. Totally not right.
    Fingers crossed for you that you get the job…if not, I would absolutely make a big deal about what happened….it’s just not right.
    XO

  21. Port of Indecision November 24, 2011 at 02:39 #

    Oh, wow. That’s fucked up, man. Really, really fucked up. To be asking your medical history period, and then to actually admit that they will use your pregnancy as a factor to evaluate if you are hired or not. Dayum.

  22. Infertile Days November 24, 2011 at 04:03 #

    That really sucks. I hope you get the job. Maybe you should record the conversation just in case they say something you can use in court.

  23. slcurwin November 24, 2011 at 04:21 #

    There are some serious balls being sucked here. Not as good as it sounds, just in case there was any confusion. I can’t believe those people.

  24. Theresa November 24, 2011 at 04:48 #

    Well that’s ridiculous. They shouldn’t even be able to ask you that question.

  25. robin November 24, 2011 at 06:46 #

    No, you know what, I thought about it some more. The part of this that makes me the most angry is where you feel the need to bring up your fertility history, like you say “well I’ve had other pregnancies that haven’t worked out” as if it feels like they would rather you have another miscarriage and stay at work than get pregnant and take maternity leave. I can’t articulate it, but that makes me so mad. Not mad that you said that, of course! Mad at the fact that something about the situation made you feel like that kind of justification was necessary, that kind of defensiveness – over BEING PREGNANT. A GOOD THING. The more I think about it the more angry I get. It’s almost like you felt like you had to say you HOPED it wouldn’t turn out so that they would see how much of a commitment you have towards staying at this job. Maybe I’m totally misreading it. But you being in that position, to bring up your history, etc, … I hope the situation goes for the best, I really do, but in the meantime, I am really really really angry on your behalf. Also, I don’t know if this comment made any sense.

    • robin November 24, 2011 at 06:49 #

      AHH. That was pretty incoherent… I’m really sorry! I am really mad. Ha!

    • Heather November 27, 2011 at 07:31 #

      I think you put it really well. Being pregnant IS a good thing and you shouldn’t have to apologise for it.

  26. Lise November 24, 2011 at 12:31 #

    I can’t believe they put that questions in the form at all! I’m not even pregnant and I still worry now when I’m looking for a new job. I just feel like the worst possible recruitment since I could get pregnant very soon (well I hope so at least) and if I have an interview and just have found out I’m pregnant there is no way I will tell them, not after two miscarriages in 6 months. But at the same time if the pregnancy works out and they find out that I was pregnant when they hired me I will feel like such a liar…I totally understand how you feel.

  27. Artistmouse November 24, 2011 at 14:51 #

    Pardon me while I pick my jaw up from off the ground. Who do these people think they are? There are Human Rights laws in place for a reason! What they are doing is pure BS, but as much as the situation sucks, at least you see their true colours up front and you can decide if you really want to work for people like this. If they can put you in a questionable position once, I have no doubt that they can/would do it again. I hope things work out the way you want them to, Mo.

  28. Cookie with Milk November 24, 2011 at 17:24 #

    Geez louise, Mo! That is SUCH crap! I can’t believe they would try and do that to you. I hope they pull their heads out of their asses and give you the damn job like they intended to.

  29. JM November 24, 2011 at 23:36 #

    Oooooh…. that doesn’t sit right with me, either. I have NEVER heard of having to fill out a medical disclosure form for a TEACHING job before. If they even DARE turn you down…

  30. missohkay November 25, 2011 at 01:37 #

    That is bullshit. I’m sorry.

  31. Christina November 25, 2011 at 16:23 #

    O.M. Freaking G! That is wrong on so many levels! I can’t believe they asked those questions for the interview stage paperwork. I’ve only filled out info like that for other Dr offices. Never once for employment. Now, there are forms for work that ask if you are pregnant from a health and safety standpoint for working in a lab,etc, but I don’t see how that applies to a teaching position! And then to Share! that confidential news and have someone act on it?! This is like filet mignon-quality legal case stuff! An technically, they shouldn’t have even disclosed that the other candidate was male! Totally adds power to your case if they don’t hire you!!

    GRRR…. HR is a pain in the butt at the best of times. We have a tolerate/hate relationship at work with them as they tell the employees one thing and the supervisors another- playing both sides of hte fence and telling whomever the are talking with what they want to hear…

    I know the job would be great for you and you would be great at it, but I would seriously have concerns about working for a place that has treated things in this manner…

  32. bodegabliss November 26, 2011 at 03:54 #

    That is absolutely ridiculous. What a bunch of crap! Ugh.

    (Sorry I’m a little late to respond, I haven’t been online for a few days!)

  33. Ari from your childhood November 26, 2011 at 20:14 #

    I’d like to congratulate you. If you get the job, yay! If you don’t get the job, after you’ve sued the crap out of them, your kid will go to college for free, yay! What a bunch of bastards. Jen and I had an online legal pow wow in your honor and we’re both appalled. Good luck! Call us if you need us (not that we’re barred in Israel- heck, I don’t even take the Mass bar till February!)

  34. Emily November 27, 2011 at 07:55 #

    All of it is insane! They shouldn’t be asking you about anything medical! It is none of their business! I hope you do get the job!

  35. Mrs. Corrock November 28, 2011 at 02:52 #

    wow!! in the US, those type of questions are completely illegal, not to mention, the fact that they disclosed it to the department.

    My question to you though is, do you still want to be working for an employer as such?

    I think you should still start the proceedings to sue if these types of questions are illegal where you work whether you are offered the job or not.

    Good luck!

  36. EB November 29, 2011 at 18:04 #

    From a lawyer (in the US, but it sounds like our laws are the same), write down everything that has happened. Especially the phone conversation. Write down the date, time, and as much of the conversation verbatim as you can remember it. Same with your discussion with the HR moron. It will help later.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 10 Things I Learned While Staying Overnight at the Hospital « Mommy Odyssey - January 11, 2012

    […] of humor. 2 hours after being ordered to another week of strict bed rest, I got a call from that high school offering me the teaching job. Ha […]

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