I started this blog so that tough topics can be discussed and maybe, just maybe, I’d be able to help out other young women and share some insight, advice, wisdom, or just some hard honest truth. And to be honest, this terrifies me a little because in order to do so, I feel like I need to be honest. Well, more honest. I need to let you into a part of my life that still stings a bit. So I’ve been beating around the old blog bush (don’t giggle, this isn’t a dirty reference) and I’ve been sticking to safe topics like my running, some parenting stuff, a menu post, and general updates. But that’s going to change now.
I was discriminated against by my place of employment after I became a mother.
I read this fantastic article by ProudWorkingMom.com (fantastic blog by the way! I highly recommend!) and it sparked by own sense of injustice because I am all too familiar with it. I lived through it. And ya’ll it sucked.
Here’s what happened in a nutshell:
I got pregnant, spent 28 days on hospital bed rest trying to stay pregnant, delivered Diapers at 33 weeks 5 days then he spent 12 days in the NICU. Diapers came home for 9 days and he was readmitted to the NICU for 4 days. During my hospital bed rest I filed all necessary paper work for short term disability, stayed in close contact with my manager, my manager’s manager, and HR. I dotted I’s and crossed t’s then pushed out a baby. When Diapers came home for good, I was up front and honest and told my manager I was going to take 8 weeks of maternity leave. This meant in total I took 12 weeks. I used vacation time, and sick time/pay. Then I was on short term disability. The week before July 4th, I returned to work. This was after a one day training I had to attend in mid-June. About 3 months into returning to work I had a mysterious meeting on my calendar – it simply listed the attendees: me, my manager, and HR. I was puzzled, but honestly I knew what was coming. The company I worked for was quite frankly terrible. It had a terrible culture, didn’t embrace boldness or creativity, and my manager was ineffective at best. I know this all sounds very harsh and maybe it is, but the bottom line is, I did my job, did it well, met all of my manager’s requests, and was a team player. I tried to go above and beyond and was shot down numerous times, so I stopped. I did my job and then went home.
Proceeding my hospital stay, I had 2 weeks of light work where I was in the office 3x a week and worked from home 2x a week. During this time, my workload at the office increased astronomically. I was on my feet for 7.5 hours a day only stopping to eat lunch and squeeze in pee breaks all while trying to manage contractions. When the HR meeting rolled around I had 3 letters ready to go, depending upon how this meeting went. Going into the meeting there was 0, zero, zilch, nada, communication from my manager. She never explained to me what it was about or why it was happening. Nothing, and this behavior was very typically for her. She was also the manager that routinely would tell her direct reports how she hates her job and doesn’t want the responsibility anymore. Classy.
The meeting came and basically I was getting written up for poor work performance. I can’t really say I was surprised, I knew as soon as I got pregnant and told my manger’s manager (I didn’t even trust my manager to tell her!! I knew there would be retribution! Red flag #1) that something like this was going to happen. I sat, I listened, and I kept my mouth shut. When HR asked me to sign the document, which would be placed in my personnel file, I declined. I said I disagreed, I emailed my manger all results I got on a daily basis, and basically I said my peace. I also said something along the lines of my manager wants me to be written up, yet she came empty-handed. No emails, no documentation of any kind to corroborate what she was telling HR. At this point I knew what my decision was going to be so I turned to our HR lady and I told her that she should be ashamed of herself for allowing an employee to get written up without the manager providing documentation. At was in a checkmate of she said versus she said. I then handed in letter #3 – an “I quit effective immediately” letter. And I walked out with my head high. I floored them. Neither one of them expected it, my manger smirked (Yep, she smirked. Whether it was relief, of vindication, or just her being her I’ll never know), and the HR lady tried to convince me otherwise saying it wasn’t necessary. But it was necessary because I knew I wasn’t going to work for a company or a manger like that. I went to the Mother’s Room to pack up my pump and then my desk to back up my belongings and that’s when my manger’s manger stopped by. He just got word that I quit on the spot. He said he was sorry (really?! this surprised me). I told him not to be sorry; this was a decision 2 years in the making (I had been working there for about 2.5 years) and I explained to him that I choose not to work for a company that doesn’t value their employees or a manger such as the one I had. With that, I handed him my employee card and drove home.
Immediately after I turned in my letter, while packing up my stuff in the Mother’s Room, I called my husband and told him what happened and what decision I made. He supported me 100% (he’s the best). Then I vented, the anger was seething and I needed to let it out. Then somewhere along the way my anger turned to tears. I felt the injustice of the whole situation. The injustice of (almost) getting written up, the injustice of feeling like I had no other way out except to quit, and underneath all the anger and the injustice I was feeling, my mommy’s heart was aching because there was an injustice to me as a mom and to my son. I did everything in my power to bring as healthy a baby into the world as I could. Granted it wasn’t ideal, but he was never a poker chip in a game. He was never something I would gamble on. And then to be determined that I was under performing was a sharp dagger to my very soul. It hurt ya’ll. And it hurt a lot. To this day I made the best decision – I quit on my terms and I have never ever regretted that. But to be a victim of work place discrimination because I am mother, well it hurts and it seems downright unfair.
And the work my manager claimed I never did?
I did it and emailed her the results the same day.
I don’t have any words of wisdom here honestly. I know I said I wanted to help and give insight, etc., etc., but I couldn’t fight this situation, because I had no proof to do so. And after reading the ProudWorkingMom blog post, it appears that most women faced with this are all in the same boat.
I suppose what I can offer are a few things:
- Stand up for you and your work. No one will ever sing your praises like you can. I’m not about bragging, but I am all about representing your work fairly and that means being proud of your accomplishments and sharing what you have achieved with your boss.
- If you find yourself in a work environment where you are under appreciated, consider other options. I know this may not be feasible for everyone, but please give it some thought. If you need to prepare then start preparing. You deserve a company that values you, your work, and your contributions. Never forget this.
- If you are a victim of workplace discrimination and you can prove it, then I urge you to fight it. I have never been in this position, but I know I would fight it. I would fight it for me, other women, other mothers, my nieces, and other young girls who our shaping our future.
- Listen to your moral compass. I knew what was happening to me was wrong – I could feel it in my gut. Knowing a company was okay with this practice, didn’t mesh up with my values, and this is a non-negotiable for me.
- Family first. I was amazed how quickly and drastically my priorities changed when Diapers was born. All of a sudden my career didn’t seem so important. I’m not saying it wasn’t, it was just clear that Diapers was Priority #1 and my career had a higher number for the first time in my life. With this came an untapped reserve of balls. I quit my job for him, I applied to other jobs for him, and ultimately I moved across the country for him. Doing something for Diapers didn’t seem so daunting or terrifying – it just seemed right. Natural.
Have you ever left a job because it didn’t adhere to your moral compass?
What’s the best job you’ve ever had?