‘Not Available For Calls During Off Hours’: Manager Is Puzzled Whether He Was Right To Scold A Pregnant Woman For ‘Slacking’
While it’s vital to treat all employees equally, it’s just as important to be aware of significant circumstances in their life that might affect their work and then react appropriately. One office manager wanted to know if they were a jerk for telling an employee that pregnancy “is not an excuse for low productivity,” so they posted their story on the AITA subreddit.
The community overwhelmingly branded the redditor a jerk and some commenters went into detail about exactly why they were being insensitive (beyond the obvious). Have a read through the OP’s story yourselves, dear Pandas, and let us know what your take on the situation is. What would you have done personally? Oh, and a gentle reminder to keep things friendly, in the words of one of the moderators of the AITA community, Moggehh: “I know everyone wants to call OP [a jerk] but he gets it by now and not enough of you are [being civil].”
Eddy Ng, the James and Elizabeth Freeman Professor of Management at Bucknell University, was kind enough to give Bored Panda some legal perspective about the responsibilities of employees and employers in the United States and spoke about how some colleagues can develop prejudice against pregnant coworkers.
An office manager wanted to get the internet’s take about whether or not they’re a jerk for demanding that a pregnant employee be just as productive as before
Image credits: futurestreet (not the actual photo)
Image credits: Unfair-Raspberry-108
“In the US, pregnancy and maternity falls under the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). This implies that pregnancy requires some type of workplace accommodation. Employees can use up to 12 weeks of time off during pregnancy (for ‘pregnancy disability’) or after to recover and care for the newborn,” Professor Ng from Bucknell University explained to Bored Panda.
He highlighted the fact that the employee is responsible for conveying this information, “including any type of workplace accommodation requests (type of work, schedules),” so that they can “continue to work productively.” Meanwhile, the employer’s duty is to accommodate such requests “to the point of undue hardship.” The professor said that that this isn’t specifically defined, but can usually be understood in terms of resources and finances.
Prejudice against pregnant women, unfortunately, is nothing new in pretty much any workplace. “Managers and colleagues do develop prejudice of pregnant employees and view them as less competent or productive during this period. As a result, many employees hide their pregnancy from their managers,” Professor Ng said.
This means that there needs to be two-way communication very early on in the pregnancy so that employees can set expectations as soon as they can. “Employees need to know they are valued before and during pregnancy while employers should provide the necessary accommodations, including making adjustments to workload, to retain them following pregnancy. There is also a need to create awareness and train managers on providing proper support to pregnant employees.”
Here’s the r/AITA community’s verdict
One redditor shared some incredibly important information about pregnancy that some people might not have known about. They spoke about HG (hyperemesis gravidarum) which is excessive nausea and vomiting that can lead to a woman even needing hospital treatment.
The NHS reports that HG can affect 1 to 3 women in every 100, but some cases might go unreported. “If you are being sick frequently and cannot keep food down, tell your midwife or doctor, or contact the hospital as soon as possible. There is a risk you may become dehydrated, and your midwife or doctor can make sure you get the right treatment.”
Of course, we can’t confirm if the pregnant employee has HG or not. But as some redditors stressed, even if she doesn’t have HG, her manager’s behavior wasn’t up to scratch.
Meanwhile, other redditors pointed out that putting the employee’s pregnancy aside, the entire work culture at the original poster’s company should be the focus of criticism for its long hours.
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