Should You Disclose Pregnancy During Job Interviews?
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Whether you are looking for a new job that’s closer to home, or one that offers better benefits, applying for a new job while pregnant may seem stressful and overwhelming. However, California labor law has rules employers must follow to ensure pregnant women are treated fairly.  Pregnancy discrimination is a real issue taking place within the workforce that affects women. 

This discrimination often extends to interviewing while pregnant, where some employers are inclined to inquire about pregnancy to avoid hiring them. On the other hand, some employers may want to know about an applicant’s pregnancy for planning purposes, but legal restrictions are in place to safeguard against discrimination.

Many pregnant women wonder if they have a responsibility or legal obligation to inform potential employers of their pregnancy. This blog explores the legal boundaries and considerations surrounding pregnancy disclosure during job interviews.

Why Would Potential Employers Want to Know About A Woman’s Pregnancy?

In 2021, 3.6 million births were registered in the United States—a 1% increase from 2020. The general fertility rate rose to 56.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44. Also in this age group are women in the general working population (15–64). 

Among the entire female population, only 47% participate in the global labor force, while for men, it’s 72%. The considerable gap in these numbers is alarming. But why are these numbers so?

Sadly, employers may think pregnant women are unable to dedicate as much time to work as others or that they require too much time off due to maternity leave and doctor’s appointments.

Some employers worry that hiring pregnant employees may burden their company due to factors that pregnancy may cause.  From the employers’ perspective, they may not want to hire employees who require more time off or other accommodations that will result in a lack of resources or increases in company spending. 

On the other hand, there are employers who want to know about an applicant’s pregnancy simply so they can prepare for when the pregnant employee has to take a leave, but there are legal restrictions. This brings us to the next section, where we’ll delve into these crucial legal boundaries.

Employers Cannot Ask About Pregnancy During Job Interviews

Should you disclose pregnancy during an interview? You may be concerned that your pregnancy might affect your ability to be hired.  However, state and federal laws prohibit employers from hiring based on a candidate’s current, future, or perceived pregnancy. Employers are not allowed to reject applications from women they believe are currently trying to get pregnant or plan to get pregnant. 

This means you can apply for a job and interview while pregnant without having to worry about disclosing your current or future pregnancy. The law assumes that interview questions are used to gather relevant information, such as expertise and work experience when choosing a candidate for the job. Hence, asking women about their choice to have children during an interview is not allowed and is a form of pregnancy discrimination. 

Because employers cannot make hiring decisions based on a woman’s pregnancy, employers should not ask candidates about their current or future pregnancies during a job interview. Questions such as the following are not allowed:

  • Are you pregnant?
  • When are you due?
  • How far along are you?
  • Do you plan on taking any time off?
  • Are you planning on having more children in the future?

If you are asked these by your future employer you are not required to answer them. However, an employer can ask these questions if they are relevant to specific working conditions, for example, if you cannot perform your duties as part of the job. The employer can ask these to determine if you’re a good fit.

Applicants Do Not Have to Provide Information on Their Pregnancy

You are not obligated to disclose your pregnancy during job interviews; therefore, employees can practice their right to privacy when being interviewed for a potential job. However, communication with your employer is crucial if you need pregnancy-related accommodations after being hired.

In California, pregnant women must give their employers at least 30 days’ notice when requesting reasonable accommodations, pregnancy disability leave, or a job transfer. An employee can ask this verbally or in writing and should detail the timing and duration of the requested leave or accommodation.

The 30-day notice rule applies when the need for accommodation, a job transfer, or leave is foreseeable. Otherwise, prompt notification to the employer is still essential. 

Employers cannot deny a request solely because the employee did not foresee the need and provide advance notice, but there may be a delay of up to 30 days. However, they cannot enforce this delay if it jeopardizes the woman’s health or pregnancy. 

Additionally, the employer may request medical certification before granting reasonable accommodation, pregnancy disability leave, or a job transfer. This certification, more comprehensive than a doctor’s note, should include:

  • A description of the requested accommodation, leave, or transfer
  • An explanation of why the accommodation, transfer, or leave is medically necessary
  • The proposed start date and the requested accommodation, transfer, or leave duration

Failure to provide this medical certification could result in the denial or delay of your request. Exceptions are only possible during a medical emergency that demands the pregnant employee’s immediate attention.

In summary, you don’t need to disclose pregnancy during an interview, but it’s vital to understand the legal requirements regarding disclosure and medical certification when seeking accommodations or leave related to pregnancy. 

Navigate Pregnancy Disclosure with Confidence

If you’ve encountered pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace, don’t hesitate to take action. Contact us at Shegerian Lawn. Our dedicated team is committed to defending your rights and pursuing fair treatment.

Whether you need assistance with an EEOC claim or guidance on your legal options, Shegerian & Associates can help safeguard your professional journey.

Disclaimer: None of the aforementioned information should be construed as legal advice. Likewise, contacting us via our website does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with a competent and qualified attorney to discuss your specific situation before taking action on your own.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination

1. Can HR tell your employer you’re pregnant? 

HR should not disclose your pregnancy to your employer without explicit consent. Pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions are considered personal medical information. An exception to the rule is if the job you’re applying for requires specific duties and responsibilities that the pregnancy may hamper.

2. Are there state-specific laws protecting pregnant job applicants during interviews?

Yes. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination against pregnant applicants, ensuring they have equal opportunities and cannot be asked discriminatory questions like “Are you planning on having children soon?” during interviews.

3. What should I do if an employer discriminates against me based on my pregnancy during an interview?

If you experience pregnancy discrimination during an interview, don’t hesitate to speak to an employment attorney. If possible, keep track of any documentation possible that may strengthen your case.  While every situation is different it is important to always consult with a legal professional before making assumptions of whether or not your employer has participated in pregnancy discrimination.

Manuela Varela

Relations Manager

Manuela Varela has been with Shegerian & Associates since August 2022. She is responsible for outreach and marketing on behalf of the firm and manages relationships between firms and referring attorneys. She is also responsible for developing business opportunities and affiliations. Manuela graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Economics and Political Science.