Having a baby is an extremely exciting time for any new mom. If you have ever met one or been one, you know how much they love to share the news of a pregnancy. Although it is an experience that they’ll cherish forever, it is one that many women feel they have to keep secret as long as possible in the workplace.
Why? Many women fear what maternity leave will do to their job or their career. Pregnancy discrimination is illegal in New Jersey and under federal law, but many women fear that even when their employer holds their job, it won’t be the same when they come back.
It’s a real fear, but the co-founder of a public relations company said it doesn’t have to be — for either party. For this company owner, he quickly learned about maternity leave when three of his 16 integral employees became pregnant at the same time. Instead of the upheaval that some employers fear, he said “it was an extremely good thing, not only for the moms, but for all of us.”
He said that not only was there time to prepare for the three women to go on leave, but during their leave, the entire company learned how to become more flexible. He found that the other employees learned to expand their skills, step up to help and adapt quickly. The women came back, and “it wasn’t bad after all,” said the founder.
While the women at this company said that they appreciated the experience and the flexibility of the company, it isn’t one shared by all pregnant women. The writer of Maternity Leave Coach blog helps women navigate how they’ll tell their boss, what the reaction might be and the risks and benefits from her experience and those that she talks to. She said some women fear it so much that they’d wear a heavy coat in the middle of summer to hide their baby bump.
The truth is that women can’t always predict how their boss will handle the news. Those that experience any adverse employment action prior to leave, during leave or after they come back may have a pregnancy discrimination claim, but may not immediately understand the extent of their rights. This is where an attorney can help provide advice on any possible claim and carry it out through to resolution.
Source: USA Today, “On the Job: Maternity leave can be good for mom, firm,” Anita Bruzzese, Oct. 13, 2013