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telling your bully boss that you are pregnant
MakaKulka posted:
Hi everyone,
I don't normally post but I'm so upset that I needed to vent to a group that would understand. I'm 37 and 8 weeks along. I work in a company where all the managers, except me, are men. Lately there has been a lot of push to work hard and so I've been a bit worried about telling them I'm pregnant. To make things worse, today, my direct boss was verbally abusive to me and when I called him on it and brought it to his boss's attention -- they both told me I was being too sensitive. So imagine how they'll react if I tell them I'm pregnant on top of everything else. Normally, I'm not a shrinking violet and I stand up for my rights -- but this has really depressed me today. I'm not sure if its just because of my hormones or if I really am being too sensitive or what. When I say this guy was verbally abusive, I mean, he raised is voice and yelled at me and accused me of not giving him enough respect. Then he questioned my professionalism. When I tried to defend myself on some technical issues, he said I was being snarky. He was visibly shaking with anger -- and that's when I decided to leave and he followed me two steps behind the whole way -- right to our main boss's office. How can I sit down and tell this guy that I'm pregnant and ask for maternity leave? I'm just so tired of this guy -- its not the first time we've had a heated "discussion" but I usually hold my own. Now I feel like I've been run over by a truck. This guy is a bully and others have had problems with him too but are too scared to say anything. Now I have to beg him for maternity leave in a few months. What should I do? Advice? Am I being too sensitive? Should I just pretend nothing happened?

-mad and confused
kal1973 responded:
There is no place in the work world for yelling or having someone behave like a bully. You have rights as an employee, regardless of your pregnancy. That being said, you also have rights once you reveal you are pregnant. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act does just what the name implies. You may also be entitled to FMLA benefits depending on your company's status. Is this a large company with a centralized HR department? How did the other supervisor handle the situation? Depending on your answers and how bad it gets, you can always contact your state department of labor or even the EEOC-but those are unpleasant steps all around and can make things worse. A good HR department can do wonders...
QueenOfStarWars replied to kal1973's response:
This makes me so darn MAD!!!! First, before you talk to him, get straight what your rights are through HR. You need to tell him when you have all off the fact.

My boss' reaction to baby #1 was LITERALLY "oh no" but this time around, he was much better, but NEVER abusive. With or without being pregnant, you don't deserve that.

Definitely find out your rights, so you don't have to beg him for a THING!

Hang in there!!!!
Jeannie [Me (37); DH (41); DD 21mos (EDD 12/23/2008 but born at 33 wks on 11/9/2008); EDD for 2: 10/18/2010 Pink Team]
Sigma3rc74 responded:
When you talk to someone in your HR department, tell them that he is creating a hostile work environment --- that's a "hot" phrase in HR and they are required to do something about it. You may think that by going to HR, he'll be harder on you, but in reality, you'll be more proctected because if he comes after you verbally (or better - in email) you now have grounds for a formal complaint.
That said, he doesn't have to be "nice" to you, just has to follow the rules. So, be sure you know exactly what your company's guidelines are for maternity leave, short term disability, etc. so that you know what you can and can't do BEFORE you inform anyone of your pregnancy.
GL - I know that's a tough situation - especially in this economy. Not like there's 25 other jobs out there you can hop to and leave this jerk behind...
MakaKulka replied to Sigma3rc74's response:
Thanks everyone. Your advice gave the extra push to go see my "one level up" boss and I explained the whole conversation. His response was "well, that's just his personality and besides, he'll never admit that he was wrong." I work in a place where the "in your face" attitude and aggressive personality is rewarded...humanity and sensitivity is really not an asset in the corporate world sometimes.

However, that comment got me really mad and I went to talk to HR. I got all of the information about filing a harrassment complaint and told my HR rep what happened. She was sympathetic and was really surprized that he dared do this to me -- I guess he's known to be mean to his other male subordinates. I don't think I'm going to pursue this formally but at least there is a bit of a trail that I can use if he does this again. AND I've decided to wait to tell them I'm pregnant until I'm 4 months. I think I can hide it until then and I have a feeling if I tell my jerk immediate boss about it, he'll probably make some stupid least I can put that off for a while.

Incidentally, what is the typical amount of time that women normally wait to tell their boss that they are pregnant?
QueenOfStarWars replied to MakaKulka's response:
The first time, I found out over the summer, but didn't tell my boss until I returned for the semester (since I wasn't due until after the semester was supposed to end). I was 5 mos pregnant.

This time, I told him just after my 12 week appointment.
Jeannie [Me (37); DH (41); DD 21mos (EDD 12/23/2008 but born at 33 wks on 11/9/2008); EDD for 2: 10/18/2010 Pink Team]
kal1973 replied to MakaKulka's response:
I know most of my friends have waited as long as humanly possible. I am fortunate to have been able to tell my boss immediately, but we have a great relationship and he was almost as happy as me I think ( he went and got a stool for me to put under my desk because he thought my feet needed to be up). My staff have typically not told me until they are passed 12 weeks. The only expection is the poor girl I found throwing up in the bathroom a few weeks ago and she confessed to being 6 weeks. She is three direct reports below me, so I know and her supervisor(s) don't. And I'm not telling!
43Hope responded:
Dear Mad and Confused (I like that!)

I am glad you spoke to your boss's boss and HR--The other posts gave great advice and encouragement. I too felt anger and disgust when i read your post. And yes, since there is no legal time of when to tell about your pregnancy, wait as long as you can. A thought would be, that when you are ready to tell, tell HR first, then your boss. Also, be sure you are not in any danger for your or the baby--if you are then you might need to tell earlier--danger like air issues or lifting or anything like that.

On the sensitive part, I do not think you were/are being over-sensitive, but I do think the hormones in our bodies does do some chemical changes in us as we get, shall I say more 'maternal'--obviously one being crying (which i do a lot), but I also think there is just some 'preparing us for caring for the baby' that goes on--one of protection while we are pregnant but also after. So think of any 'sensitive' times as positive.

As far as telling, the 1st time I told at 3 months since this was after a lot of fears. The 2nd time I had a huge scare at 5 weeks and broke down in front of my male bosses and told them--but then kept it quiet for the rest of my co-workers until after 3 months. Again, there is no standard or requirement--but I still encourage you to tell HR first.
Me (43), DH (43), (mc) DD (9), (3 mc, ectopic), DS(22 mos) (mc); BFP 5/31: EDD 2/8/2011 HB: 160's 7/30, Yellow Team
Janna1016 responded:
Hi Mad and Confused,

I'm glad you feel a little better after your conversations. Please be aware that even if you choose not to file a formal complaint, your HR dept may feel compelled to address the issue for their protection and the company's protection. The thinking being that if you decide to sue at some point you can say, "well, I told the HR dept and they didn't do anything!"

As far as when you should tell your boss, I'm going to differ a little from the other ladies. I say tell now. The reason I say this is because you can't claim protection under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act if he doesn't know you're pregnant. I don't think any other type of discrimination applies here because it sounds like he's an equal opportunity jerk to everyone (which is not usually illegal). So I would tell him during a calm moment and in a very professional way. Let him know you'll have a plan to him for your anticipated LOA by a certain date and that you wanted to tell him now as a professional courtesy. Follow up with an email, copy his boss, and hopefully he's smart enough to keep his mouth shut.

As far as when I told--this is my 4th pregnancy, and I've had a different boss for each one. I am lucky that I've had great relationships with all the bosses I've had while pregnant so I've always been comfortable telling early on. This time around I told at 9 weeks. My boss and I work in different states and I didn't want to take any chances of someone here mentioning to someone there. Not that anyone here officially knew (except my direct reports who guessed when I started eating nothing but saltines and drinking Vernor's), but I started showing early.

I wish you the best. I had a bully boss once (never had to tell him I was pregnant thank God!) and was miserable. I hope everything works out for you.
Janna(40), DH(40), DS(12), DD(10), DD(4), Due 11/2/2010, Yellow Team

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