Does this title scare you? Well, I didn’t even know it was possible to get “let go” while you are pregnant…turns out it IS VERY POSSIBLE.
Here’s what happened and what I learned:
I had left a very comfortable job at a very very stable financial company to go to a new-ish and hip software company. Why? Well basically I started at said financial company fresh out of college and my salary never got properly leveled. There were people on my team at my same level who were sub par employees and making 20-25K more a year than me. I had enough, I knew I had to leave to make more money. So I did.
The software company gave me a 40% increase and I was very happy. It was a very young company and everything was new and exciting but I always felt like something just wasn’t right there. Things seemed very hush hush and a lot of concerning things started happening. For example, someone in HR fell for a phishing scam via email and ended up sending EVERYONE’S W2s to some random person outside of the organization.
That’s a story for another day.
Anyway, fast forward almost a year. I was doing the work of 3 people, managing projects, working with clients, managing schedules for the clients upgrades, and everything in between. I was also pregnant, about 7 months to be exact. Everyone knew I was pregnant, there was no hiding it at that point. HR knew, my manager, my team, the cafe worker knew my love for cereal and donuts.
I was working with so many different clients, in the US and other countries which meant working crazy hours in order to communicate with them on their timezone. On top of that my manager tells me he wants me to work in Virginia (3+ hours away) with a government client who we needed to be onsite for. I told him I would have to ask my doctor because I don’t think at 8-9 months pregnant I would be allowed to be that far from the hospital I was set to deliver in.
So one Friday, I left work and met my husband and friends at happy hour…why not? I’m pregnant, not dead people! While I was at happy hour a friend from my previous company sent me a link to our local news outlet and he said “are you ok? you didn’t get let go did you?”
I clicked the link and my heart dropped. It said something along the lines of “Huge Layoff at Local Software Firm.” I showed my husband and told him I had a bad feeling about it, he assured me there is NO WAY they can fire someone when they are pregnant…legally. So I tried to push it in the back of my mind and went about my life.
Sunday night comes along and my husband asked if I had heard anything else about the article and I thought “hmmm no, I’ll check my email to see if there’s anything weird in my inbox.”
And there it was, a very, very, strange invite from my boss’ boss titled “Catch Up with Chad” and I rolled over in bed and said to my husband “I’m getting let go tomorrow at 8am.” And by the way, I have never seen my boss’ boss in the office before 9 so that was the icing on the cake. My husband assured me that I wasn’t getting let go and he was probably going to let me know what is going on and how the layoffs will affect our work. I went along with it but knew in my gut it wasn’t right.
So there I laid in bed, with my phone and googled things like “Is it legal to fire a pregnant woman in Delaware” (yes, I live in Delaware. It’s a state, not a piece of Maryland mmmkay!?). And I ended up with no clear answers, no surprise there. The next morning just so happened to be the day I hit 28 weeks pregnant so I got ready wondering if this would be the outfit I got laid off in, took some pregnancy pics to mark my 7 month milestone, and went to work.
Heres the picture I took of myself all dressed and ready to get fired! Don’t I look happy? Or confused? Or possibly just constipated…it’s a thing when you’re pregnant. Just another fun pregnancy side effect!
I walked in the front door of the building and there were boxes of tissues EVERYWHERE. All of the conference rooms had signs on the doors saying “reserved all day” and then the front desk receptionist said to me “let me know if you need anything today.”
I thought to myself, “today is the day I’m going to get laid off and I’m very pregnant.” So I walked to my desk and everyone was in panic mode “Did you get let go? Do you have any meetings on your calendar? They already let go Tom, John, and Darren on the support team.” So I set up my stuff on my desk, started packing up my personal belongings and went through my documents on my laptop and made sure there wasn’t anything of mine that I needed.
No one on my team was there, just me. Then my co-worker Linda, also known as my work mom, arrived. I looked her in the eye and said “I have a meeting with Chad in 5 minutes, I’m getting let go. It was great to work with you.” She started freaking out, she was my work mom and momma bear was pissed.
I was pretty numb during the entire “meeting” with Chad. It was pointless really. Every question I asked, he couldn’t answer and just said “you can direct all questions to HR.” I looked at him and said “you are really going to do this to me while I’m 7 months pregnant? I will have NO health insurance and am going to have a baby” as soon as I said the words, I started crying. And I was NOT happy about it.
They walked me out as if I was some dirtbag that stole from the company and it took everything out of me not to flip them off on the way out. I stayed calm. Drove home and called my husband crying in the car. He came home from work because he was worried about me putting stress on the baby.
The emotional roller coaster I went on the rest of the day was insane. I was mad, sad, crying hysterically, then all of a sudden I was calm and relieved. “I don’t have to deal with the clients anymore? I don’t have to possibly go to Virginia in a month!”
My husband reassured me that we would figure this out, we can do it, it’s just a bump in the road and it’s for the best. Sounds good doesn’t it? Easier said than done to a pregnant chick.
I ended up calling a lawyer, which I have NEVER done in my life. Turns out, if you aren’t the only one terminated, it is very legal because you are not being singled out. Awesome.
Next step, figure out how I can have health coverage for this baby.
I gave myself a day to feel sorry for myself…but the next morning I woke up with a fire lit. This is bullshit, I’m not going down without a fight!
I emailed the HR rep that I had worked with to coordinate my maternity leave (keep in mind this was a very small company so it was easy to get a hold of her). I basically told her that what they did to me was completely heartless and the least they could do was extend my healthcare coverage for 6 months. She got back to me after she spoke with my manager, he told her to do whatever I needed! So I didn’t pay for any healthcare for 5 months. I never even got a bill from the hospital after the birth of our daughter.
Now to find a new job…