Disclose pregnancy?

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    Hello all! I am new here, but struggling with a decision. I interviewed recently for a great job I would like to take. It’s an academic job, the chairman is someone who I’ve known peripherally (has mentored me also over the years) and my husband actually trained in this program. Many of my potential future colleagues are people I have known for 7 years or more. I’m several years out of training.

    We have been going through fertility treatments and will find out if we are pregnant in a week. Initially, I wanted to start the new job in July but they are now asking if I could start sooner.

    I could, but that would mean taking maternity leave in the first year. Should I disclose the pregnancy at 4 weeks, and negotiate start date assuming I am/stay pregnant? It may not even stick, but I feel disingenuous not telling him. What would you do?

    Thank you… I just have no idea what to do.



    That’s a good question. You do not even know if you are pregnant yet, but you have been “trying” (IVF or not, this is what it is), so it is possible that you are pregnant, and it is possible that that will impact the new department if you agree to start early. It is also possible that you may not be pregnant, or that it may not stick, as you say. That uncertainty is why people tend not to tell anybody they’re pregnant until after the first trimester.

    Telling him would make you feel better, and would potentially allow him to plan for your maternity leave. On the other hand, he may decide not to hire you at all. Even if that is illegal, and even if you feel that he would not do that to you personally, the fact is that women are discriminated against because of pregnancy (and even because they might become pregnant someday). I am not a lawyer, but I believe you are not obligated to disclose your family-planning activities for just that reason. I suspect that other female candidates for the position will not disclose that they are trying to get pregnant. And I suspect that this chairman is already aware that you have the potential to become pregnant (because you are female and of childbearing age) but he is not allowed to ask outright.

    So if you do get the job, and you do agree to start early, and you do end up being pregnant, what would actually happen? Would there be enough people to cover for you clinically during maternity leave? In a big enough department, you would think that it would not be much of a problem, but it might be an issue in a small department. Even so, telling him after the first trimester should still give him plenty of time to arrange clinical coverage, unless you are in a rare subspecialty. Would a research project be ruined because of your absence during maternity leave? Would the project be permanently reassigned to somebody else while you are gone? Or could you just put it on hold, or delegate your duties, without any repercussions? Does this department have a reputation for being family-friendly, or have women been punished in the past for taking maternity leave? I think these are important factors in figuring out what is the right thing to do.

    I can think of other things you can say, without disclosing your exact situation. You could say that you can’t start early because something is coming up with your family, or you could ask a hypothetical question about what happens during maternity leave in general. I don’t know if you would feel any better, because you are not being 100% honest, plus he could then come back and ask you for more details since you brought up the topic. You could also stall for a week, until the pregnancy test results are in, because if you are not pregnant, then the disclosure issue goes away.

    I really don’t know what I would do in this situation, other than stall for a week. But I hope everything works out well, both with the IVF and with your job search!

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