Open thread

by EPI Staff on January 27, 2011

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Celeste January 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I am one of only 2 women in a large team of men. Today I overheard 2 of the guys discussing an interview with a candidate for an open position on the team. One of the gentlemen commented that the woman was pregnant and he had concerns about how much time she would be out of the office because of this. The other man agreed that this was a concern and said it was too bad because she was otherwise a good candidate. The conversation did not include me, but I feel like the decision to hire or not hire this woman based on her parental status is unethical and discriminatory. Is there a way to bring this up to them? Or should I stay out of it since I am not in charge of this hiring decision and the conversation was not intended to include me, it just took place near me?


Alicia January 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

First from a buisness perspective it is very reasonable to take under consideration major leave expectations. A pregnant woman is more likely to need leave just when she is finally being trained and useful to the team. It is a reasonable expectation. All else being equal someone who requires major leave possibly unexpectedly and suddenly is a less favorable employee. This conversation did not include you. You are not aware if or if not this woman would or would not be hired based on anything else. Eavesdropping is also considered rude. So if you were to say something you would be both admitting to eavesdroping while lacking facts and saying that based on insufficent evidence you consider your coworkers unethical. That is going to hurt you proffesionally and would be rude of you.
Stay out of it. This is not unethical and not your buisness.


Celeste January 27, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I wasn’t eavesdropping. I was sitting at my desk working, and they were standing next to my desk having the conversation. The only way I could have avoided hearing it would have been to cover my ears and hum or walk away from my computer. I was not being rude. I was doing my job.


Eileen January 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I don’t know if there’s any way you can say something without creating a difficult situation for yourself, but hopefully HR will step in. It is against the law to discriminate in hiring based on pregnancy, although there are certainly companies that find ways to bend the rules. Maybe find a blog more focused on work and ask there or do some googling to see what you can do? Sorry this isn’t very helpful, but I feel for you. Good luck.


Just Laura January 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Does the workplace have more than 15 employees? If so, it is illegal to discriminate against a pregnant woman (CRA 1964).
Businesses having fewer than 15 workers are handled differently.


Lin January 31, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I know some larger companies have basically a “whistleblower” hotline or e-mail so serious concerns on the job can be submitted anonymously. If your place of work has that, you could express your concerns there, and HR should be handling the problem (if nothing else, sending out a mass memo reminding how they handle maternal job candidates).


Alicia January 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I did not know it was agaist the law. I appologize I am clearly thus in the wrong. I’ve only ever been involved in hiring for small companies.
Still I would not say anything as the fact that she is pregnant may not be what is reventing her from getting the job and for all you know she might still get the job. So unkless you are part of the HR or the hiring manager I would stay out of it. Also in a company and public there is this thing called selective hearing where you ignore conversations that are around you that do not include you. You might hear some of it but probably not much if you are focused on your own stuff.


Gertrude January 30, 2011 at 5:22 am

I am getting married soon to the love of my life, and I am so excited! A few months ago, a couple of my coworkers asked “We’re going to be invited to your wedding, right?” to which I replied, of course! My wedding is a year and a half away. Now that I am planning the wedding, I am understanding how pricey this endeavor is (it is my first wedding, after all!) and I found that I need to have a much smaller reception than I anticipated. How do I tell them that I simply cannot afford to have as big of a celebration as I initially anticipated, and that they will not be invited, after all?


Elizabeth January 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm

This is why no one should ever ask a potential host if they will be invited to an event! It’s tough to be put on the spot, and now you find yourself in an even more difficult position.

If I were you, I would have a private chat (in passing, at the coffee machine or similar) with the ‘busybody’ or ‘spreader of news’ in the group. No doubt this person will ask you how wedding planning is going, and you should confide how difficult it is and how much more expensive things are than you previously thought. Explain that you thought you were going to be able to invite a lot more people than you actually are, that you’re leaving off a bunch of second-cousins, your mom isn’t going to be able to invite her high-school friends, and you are now not going to be able to invite your coworkers. Are your in-laws making heavy demands on the guest list? Complain about that too. Express regret, say that you wish you could, but now it just isn’t going to work out as you’d hoped. Ask this person’s advice as to how you should explain it to the other coworkers.

This way, the coworkers won’t feel like it’s only they who have been cut, and I guarantee that the word will be spread within a day. After that, just have a couple more similar chats, but then the others will know that it’s coming.

You could also have a similar conversation with all of the coworkers at once, if you’re out to lunch with them.


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