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Can we ask an employee if they are pregnant? California

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  • Can we ask an employee if they are pregnant? California

    Hello all!
    We have a fairly new employee, hired at the beginning of the year. She is doing great and we are very happy with her.
    We have noticed she appears to be with child, combined with some sickness she had several weeks ago.
    Are we allowed to ask her if she is pregnant? We need to know due to her position being important and would like to plan accodingly since we had a hard time finding her in the first place.

  • #2
    Originally posted by angel_28 View Post
    Hello all!
    We have a fairly new employee, hired at the beginning of the year. She is doing great and we are very happy with her.
    We have noticed she appears to be with child, combined with some sickness she had several weeks ago.
    Are we allowed to ask her if she is pregnant? We need to know due to her position being important and would like to plan accodingly since we had a hard time finding her in the first place.


    I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "tread EXTREMELY carefully" with this one.

    CA does, as I've learned from the wonderful experts here, terrifically protective of their pregnant citizens when it comes to employment law. If you ask her, and she responds "Yes" and then you cut her hours for example...well, that's likely not going to end well.

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    • #3
      Agree, thread carefully - you don't want to discriminate due to pregnancy.

      If she is doing her work fine, I wouldn't ask her if she is pregnant.
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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      • #4
        We need to know due to her position being important and would like to plan accodingly since we had a hard time finding her in the first place.
        Agreed. Is this something you talk to all employees whose "position being important", or just those you suspect of being pregnant? A good rule of thumb is you cannot take actions solely because of the employee being pregnant, or might be pregnant.
        "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
        Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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        • #5
          I can understand the need to plan for an employee's absence if/when they take off for maternity purposes. Particularly in your state where an employee can take up to 7 months off, it makes sense to have a plan in place. I run into this not infrequently as the majority of my employees are of child bearing age and MUST have coverage if they are out. That said, there is no good way to ask ANY woman if she is pregnant. Ever.

          The way I have coached managers to handle this in the past is to meet with the employee and explain the needs and long range plans which are coming up and asking if there is any reason they would have difficulty or be unable to meet those demands. It can be an informal meeting but I wouldn't ask just about pregnancy.
          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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          • #6
            She may be relucant to tell her employer that she's pregnant because she's so new and presumably not eligible for any leave time. I agree with the others - tread carefully. If at least possible she's not pregnant but has some other medical condition resulting in her abdomen growing (or maybe she's just put on some weight.)

            If she's not pregnant and you ask if if she is, I expect she'll be crushed and embarassed. Unless the pregnancy is at the point where it's obvious, I'd likely wait and see if she's absent again and then ask if she's ok medically-speaking and whether she anticipates more absence time that the company needs to plan for. That opens the door for her to volunteer if she's pregnant (or whatever is going on with her) and suggests that she won't lose her job if she is.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Beth3 View Post
              She may be relucant to tell her employer that she's pregnant because she's so new and presumably not eligible for any leave time. I agree with the others - tread carefully. If at least possible she's not pregnant but has some other medical condition resulting in her abdomen growing (or maybe she's just put on some weight.)

              If she's not pregnant and you ask if if she is, I expect she'll be crushed and embarassed. Unless the pregnancy is at the point where it's obvious, I'd likely wait and see if she's absent again and then ask if she's ok medically-speaking and whether she anticipates more absence time that the company needs to plan for. That opens the door for her to volunteer if she's pregnant (or whatever is going on with her) and suggests that she won't lose her job if she is.

              That's an excellent way of handling it

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              • #8
                Well we got our answer:
                One of her coworkers saw her sick in the restroom.
                I along with a female co worker to make her comfortable sat down with and asker her if she was ok, needed a ride home etc.
                She said she was ok, but it was probably due to he pregnancy.
                So, we didn't ask, she was upfront.
                The following day we sat down, explained her leave rights and yes Beth, she is young and afraid we would terminate her.
                Everything should work out for all parties. Thank you for your help all as always.

                Comment

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