Moral obligation to disclose pregnancy/parenthood to potential employers

In this thread a debate sprung up on whether a pregnant woman has a moral obligation to disclose her condition to potential employers.

In the United States, a woman has no legal obligation to disclose her pregnancy to potential employers, and potential employers are legally obligated not to consider current pregnancy as a factor in hiring. My opinion is that it is perfectly moral for a woman to not disclose her pregnancy to potential employers. Partly because I think that employers, which benefit from the protection of law, also have a moral obligation to follow that law, and so potential employees disclosing information which may not legally considered in hiring decisions are doing the employer no favors. It simply tempts those currently acting as agents of the employers to violate the law and thus put the employer in jeopardy.

I also think that the employer is under moral obligation to treat employees whom they hire when pregnant the same as those who are not pregnant when hired. Yes, maternity benefits, like any other benefits, may be reserved to employees who have been employed for durations as outlined by company policy.

I think they ought to be allowed to consider it, specifically because of the impact that it has on the employee’s (or potential employee’s) ability to be at work during their scheduled hours.

With the number of doctor’s appointments that pregnant women go to these days, it’s disingenuous to show up at an interview claiming that you will be able to have good workplace attendance knowing that you’re going to be taking a significant amount of time off.

I think if a person knows that they will be unable to meet the requirements of the job, then they ought to disclose that. If, for example, someone knows full well that they will have to take off half a day every other week for any reason, they should say so and give the employer the opportunity to decide whether or not that’s acceptable before the hiring. It’s not going to happen, because employers would rather have someone who doesn’t need to work 7.5 days out of 8, so instead what we get is bait-and-switch.

catsix said it all. I agree. I understand the basis for the law, but I think it’s bad public policy and is unfair to employers.

Agreed with Catsix as well. Not only do the employers have to pay out for the time off for doctor visits and after the big day, the employees get stuck with what could have been work done by the absentee. And don’t even get me started on paternity leave.

If, as the OP said, the employer is not legally allowed to take a potential employee’s condition into consideration in making a hiring decision, all discussion on the burden this person will place on tge employer is besides the point, since society has already made that decision. Many of these issues also would apply to someone with a disability, except that pregnancy is temporary and a disability is permanent.

I agree with the OP that someone is not morally obligated to volunteer information that might encourage an employer to break the law.

Now, I’ve never volunteered that my attendance would be good, and it would be an odd thing to bring up. If an employer specifically asked, I’d tell the truth. However it might be a legally sticky thing to ask, not being a lawyer, let alone a labor lawyer, I wouldn’t know.

Suppose you are only a couple weeks along; too early for even you to know you’re pregnant. How would this differ in the long run? The employer has to accommodate your condition whether you knew it at the time of hire or not. I wouldn’t feel obligated to give someone information if they’re going to have to do the same thing whether they know or not. It’s an inherent risk in hiring women of child-bearing age.

As a rule, your employer is not your friend or ally; the employer/employee relationship is generally adversarial. He or she will try to get as much as possible from you and give as little back as they can; you should return the favor. At most, you owe them the labor you have agreed to perform, nothing more. So if the law or the contract doesn’t demand it, you don’t have a moral obligation to tell them a thing, IMHO.

One of the things that strikes me is that my state, and most other states in the USA employers have a right to dismiss you for no reason at all at any time. They give no guarantee that an employee will have a job in a year, a month, or a week. What generates the moral obligation of the employee to make more of a commitment to the employer than the employer is making to the employee?

When employers start acting morally and ethically as a regular way of doing business (be it with their employees, customers, suppliers, etc.), then and only then will you see a change in attitude by employees and potential employees. Of course, not all employers exist on the Dark Side. But as long as there are annual lists of the “100 best companies to work for,” and it’s practically the same 100 companies every year, don’t expect those not on such lists to change their ways.

Anyone who believes the phrase," it’s nothing personal, it’s business," is grossly naive. It’s always personal.

As I said on the other thread, employers in America provide almost nothing for a pregnant employee. At best a pregnant woman might get a few months of unpaid leave. In four states they get a few weeks of paid leave. Only 60% of all American companies provide any sort of health insurance. Even then many companies have a three month waiting period before coverage begins and pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy are often excluded. Many women with young babies suffer the agonizing choice of going back to work long before they are ready, placing their babies in daycare or painfully cutting their finances to the bare bones.

Employers seem to want it both ways on this issue. They want to know about pregnant employees. They want to have a healthy and able workforce. But they also want the right not to hire a pregnant employee and to treat pregnancy as if one had left the job in a drunken rage.

Either set up a system that offers more protections for pregnant women or don’t complain when they decide to do what’s in their best interest.

FTR, I did not tell my employer I was pregnant when she hired me. Then again she put an add that sought the highest qualified employee she thought she could get for the lowest possible wages. She did what was in her best interests. So did I. I fail to see how what she did was good capitalism but what I did was immoral.

Would you fault her if she wanted an employee who wouldn’t frequently be missing work over one who would?

Because that’s what the issue is about. It’s not about babies, it’s about getting done the job that you were hired to do.

Too many these days want it both ways - the well paid job and everything that comes with it and all the time off for the doctor’s appointment every other week or every week and then six months or a year of leave after the kid comes and that’s if they don’t end up with some problem requiring bed rest.

If I hire someone, and they have an attendance problem, I can fire them. Except if they’re pregnant, because then it’s not an ‘attendance problem’ it’s ‘pregnant women deserve special treatment’. It doesn’t sit right with me at all that one person’s attendance problem is a reason to fire them and another person’s is supposed to be supported by everyone else no matter what.

Pregnant women have health issues that need to be monitored. They’re not treated any differently than sick people who need to get treatments (dialysis, iron treatments, chemotherapy and radiation, extensive dental work, back problems, etc.). It’s not much different than any other employee who requires medical care.

Most healthy pregnant women don’t take much prenatal time. After the baby is born, well…we’re a society that values both families and the contributions women make in the workplace. It’s bad for the workplace, society and the family if the mother doesn’t take sufficient time to recover and bond after the birth.

Yeah, because corporations are a lot more important than pregnant women, right?

Then they need to choose which one they want to be in, and stick with it.

And depending upon how much care that is and how little time someone can actually spend doing their job, there’s a point where it’s unfair to everyone else. When that time comes, it’s time for the person who can’t pull their share of the weight to step aside.

I’m saying that you can’t have it all. If it’s so important to them to have a kid, then leave jobs to the people who will show up every day.

Let’s see, no pregnant women, no human race.

No corporations, need anotehr way to manage risk.

Gee, that’s a toughie.

Well, that may be your preference, but everyone has a right to earn a living and have a family, simultaneously. It’s always been that way and always will be. Earning a living and having a family go hand in hand for the majority of the world.

Where do you draw the line? A responsible manager will find ways to fill in the gaps when people require medical care. All employers face these challenges and nine times out of ten, it’s no big deal.

Funny how it’s always the employees that are asked to make sacrifices.

And if the corporations want a society where parents can stay at home, they need to raise wages so one person can support a full time parent and a kid. And then they need to pay higher taxes to support the single parents that you demand stay home.

Or . . . we can demand that corporations accommodate people, instead of people accommodating corporations.

I think that corporations should be relatively forgiving of parents who decide to have a kid while employed with them, but isn’t clandestinely applying for the job while pregnant a little much? I mean, you know that in the relatively near future you’re not going to be able to carry out the duties of your job. I’m not saying you should have to pick one over the other between family or work for the rest of your life, but it it precisely moral to accept a job that you’re going to be predictably spending a lot of time not doing?

Would it be moral to apply when three months pregnant, take time off for doctors, take maternity leave, and then as soon as you have to go back to work, quit?

(And I’m well aware that if your back is to the wall, if it’s get a job or starve, then it’s moot anyway; morals don’t significantly influence most decisions at that level. But presumably not every pregnant woman is on her dollar?)

I agree with you 100% on both counts. I have no obligation to ensure that my employer is prosperous beyond what the law and the terms of employment demand. Any more, and I am leaving money on the table. Nothing personal, just business.

First, I don’t see why I need a company to be forgiving of me having a life and making another life. Second, just where are employers paying me to stay at the job? Generally, I am getting paid for the work I do, not the work I am going to do. If I quit for any reason, I do not have to pay back some of what I was paid before If I quit under most circumstances. Third, I don’t see how applying for a job while pregnant is any sneakier than applying for a job while a caretaker of any dependent, or having any other condition that may require occasional absences, such as being human. Most of my OB appointments are after work hours and so do not cause absences and my OB sees no reason why I can’t work until the day I give birth. So what is this about not being able to do the job?

My employer is not especially worried about asking me to work outside of my normal hours and neither have been the ones prior to this one. Why should I be that concerned about potentially occasionally being unable to work during work hours? Or are you talking about maternity leave itself? Most companies that offer paid leave offer it only for employees who have worked there a certain period before going on leave. It seems that they have made a calculation to manage their risk. If a company doesn’t want to pay out maternity leave to those they hire when pregnant, they do have the choice to form policy that says they won’t do that. Since the company is paying for the work I do and not the work I may in the future do, and can manage their risk as far as paying out maternity benefits to short term employees, why would it be immoral for me to take a job when I was three months pregnant? And why would it be morally wrong for me to decide to leave after my pregnancy if I choose? Companies quite often discontinue jobs shortly after hiring someone for them and they don’t seem to suffer moral pangs about doing so. The main factor preventing them from doing it more often is that it is normally not economical to do so.

Also, if I chose to not look for work when my job was to end during my pregnancy, or do as others suggest take only temp jobs or jobs where I am easily replaceable, I am doing real damage to my future ability to earn money and real harm to those I support. Personally it also seems a huge waste in my case. I am highly skilled, why should I be less productive by taking a job that does not use my full skill set?