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Friday, March 07, 2008

Crooked Bosses

I found out that I was pregnant just a week ago. Very early in the pregnancy and anything can happen. I was going to wait to tell my boss about it( who is an attorney), but I could not hide it because I get very sick in the mornings.

I told him two nights ago. He was super nice, he took glasses out to toast and etc. and told me I can go whenever I need to and just let him know when I am not feeling well etc.

He told me that he and his wife decided(who was my best friend) that 2 weeks before my due date they will lay me off. He said not to tell anyone. And he will hire someone part time while I will be home with the baby. He said it will give me 6 month unemployment and then my job will be here again.

Sounds like a really nice boss doesn't it! Well, story to it, he did this with the secretary who was "laid off" just like this last year. He laid her off while she was pregnant saying he had money issues. Two weeks later he sent her a letter to offer her position back. Of course she could not take it right then, so her unemployment got terminated and she had no insurance and was out there and trying to figure out what to do. I know he is planning on doing the same thing with me. I can see that clearly! What can I possibly do? Specially against an attorney?

Once again, it's time for the Evil HR Lady's disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I have never been a lawyer. I am not a legal expert, I am simply an evil hr lady.

That said, this guy is pond scum and I'd like to see him busted.

From your letter, it sounds like this is a very small law firm, and therefore FMLA wouldn't apply to him. (Unless your state has different regulations.) Therefore, he's under no obligation to keep you as an employee during a maternity leave. But, he cannot fire you because you are pregnant, which is precisely what he is planning to do. (He would have to treat you the same as anybody else who had a disability. Although, given his track record, he'd probably just fire everyone, so this may not apply to him.)

Businesses are charged for unemployment, so that would be why he wanted his former secretary off it.

First of all, you need to document everything he says about this. Second, you need to start looking for a new job immediately. Even if things work out with him, you don't want to work for him. If he's unethical with his staff, he's unethical with his clients and you want no part of it.

Third, contact your local EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and speak with them. They can give you guidance and they may even wish to take up your cause. If you'd like, you can contact the former secretary and ask that she do the same.

Since the lawyer's wife is (was) your best friend, did you not have an idea of what this guy was before you started? Frequently, in jobs (and other relationships) we ignore all the flashing warning symbols because we're convinced that we have the special power to make everything all right. You don't. I don't. People that are sleazy can't be trusted with anybody, even you.

So, start looking for a new job. Talk with the EEOC. And good luck with the pregnancy.


Jon Hyman said...

I guess this guy never took an employment law class in law school.

I agree with your assessment 100%. Sounds to me like this guy is trying to manage his health insurance costs. I'd be curious to know how he handles employees with serious medical issues other than pregnancy.

Anonymous said...

Also, if he fires you for being pregnant, contact the local bar association he is a member of and try to report him. This might be unethical behavior (depending on the state) which could (depending on the state) get him sanctioned, maybe, I'm not a lawyer, but it seems like he is knowingly violating federal law.

another hr rep said...

Tell him to give that offer to you in writing. :p In the mean time, if you have written performance reviews, start collecting all of that and saving any documents (emails/notes) where he has commented on your performance. If he tries to claim there were performance issues with you, you have the documentation to prove otherwise.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is thank goodness I live in Canada where this could NEVER happen.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is thank goodness I live in Canada where this could NEVER happen.

Wally Bock said...

I think "pond scum" is far too nice a description. Pond scum, after all, float on top of the water.

HHmay78 said... minute he tossed for you and the second he is planning to fire you.
I would take advantage of his offer to leave if your'e not feeling well...and in the meantime look for another job.
it might be tough on you to start a new job in your situation but if you are financialy tight this is a must do.
I would try to go for a bigger company, seems like the small business owners doesn't always have constructed rules.
good luck!

HHmay78 said...

Check out our forum


Anonymous said...

If it were me, I'd like to think that I would contact EEOC, get a lawyer, document everything, and then sue the bejesus out of him...or at least go to the Bar. The thing that stinks about getting a new job at this point, is that you won't be covered by FMLA, and they might not be so understanding about morning sickness...I'd stick it out if possible, and then screw him. Why, you ask? Because the last woman didn't, and you owe it to the future woman who might be in your position.

HRagitator said...

This is a very sad and unfortunate situation indeed. I wish the anonymous writer the best of luck.

Sadly, I've seen this go the other way as well several times. The employee becomes pregnant, swears they will return after their FMLA leave, and then doesn't.

Clearly I'm not defending the corporation, but I'd say these cases are 50-50 in terms of who is screwing who.

Anonymous said...

Regarding HRagitator's comment:

Yeah, people screw their company sometimes by not coming back when they say they will...boohoo, the company can survive it (even a small one) and will hire another person. People quit all the time with little or no notice, not just because they are pregnant. So any excuse about the pregnant person screwing the company by not coming back when they said they would just does not fly with me as any sort of justification for a company hedging their bets and "laying a person off and hiring a temp" to then fire the original job holder....ewwww...the sliminess of it.....
Besides, if they hire a temp and try to fire you by claiming they don't have the need for you anymore, they are shooting themselves in the foot with the use of the temp to do your job.
They cannot fire you for being pregnant, and have to tread very carefully if firing someone after "making the deal" this lawyer made.

You should definitely document all conversations, look for another job, but be ready to fight if he tries to terminate you after "laying you off". I know you probably do not want to fight him since your BF is the wife of the looking for another job may be your best choice.
However, stick it out as long as you can and keep that health insurance until the baby is born. If he terminates you before the baby is born, go straight to the EEOC and the local bar assn with your documentation.

Have you thought of "jokingly" mentioning "you aren't planning a repeat of "the secretary" are you?" and see what his reaction is?

bigwag said...

Thank You for everybody. I totally agree, but things changed big time since I sent this letter. Just a few days later he gave me a letter stating that his office all the sudden ran out of money and he can not longer keep me and pay me. So, as of February 29 I was laid off. I filed for unemployment and he contested the unemployment stating that he did not lay me off, he fired me for misconduct??? How can he do that, I really have no idea. But for sure I will try to find out. This office is in PA, and I was the only emlpoyee and of course his wife, so I am not sure what I'll be able to do ,but if nothing else I will try my best to get the words out there so it will not happen to an other pregnant girl again.
Thank's for all your nice words!