3rd Trimester

Told my boss I won't be returning from maternity leave, now he's trying to fire me!

So for the last 3 years I've taught at a school for teens with serious mental health and behavioral issues. Due to bad management and the extremely stressful/traumatic work environment, I'm one of the few staff who've stuck around (our average length of employment is 3-6 months). I've always done an excellent job of managing an extremely difficult class, and my classroom has consistently had the lowest number of physical interventions (having to hold students down to prevent them from harming themselves or others) for the last 2.5 years. I've worked super hard and managed to bring my students' academic performances from a 1st-4th grade level up to a 10th-12th grade level where they belong. I'm not trying to make myself sound amazing, but I certainly do my job and try to go above and beyond whenever possible to help my students. During my entire employment, I followed all the rules and was never given a verbal warning for violating any kind of policy, let alone being written up until I got pregnant.

During my 1st tri, I had horrible morning sickness which caused me to leave my house late about once a week. I ended up arriving at work about 5 minutes after my students arrived in class for the day. Because my students can NOT be unsupervised, my tardiness caused staffing and safety issues. I was verbally warned once and then given a written warning, for which I took full responsibility and told my boss that I would not let it happen again. He let me know that the expectation of teachers is to arrive at school BEFORE the students (who get in at 8:30).

Since being written up, I've gotten up an hour earlier and I've made sure that I get to work between 8 and 8:10 just to be absolutely positive that I arrive before my students, and I hadn't received any more warnings from my boss... until I told him my plans regarding maternity leave. I let him know that if I did return after my leave, it would only be for 2-3 months in order to get the baby on my DH's health plan. I wanted to be honest with him so that he would have ample time to find a replacement for me, but now I think I made a huge mistake!

Since the day I shared my plans with him, he has attempted to give me a "final written warning" for something each day (our policy is 2 write ups and then you're fired). I don't know if he's vengeful or just trying to save the organization some money, but I'm pretty positive he's determined to fire me. The first day, I was using vacation and not scheduled to work, but came in around 8:30 just to drop off some Halloween goodies for my class. The next work day, he met with me and attempted to write me up for coming in at 8:30 the day before. When I explained to him that I was not scheduled to work and produced my time card, he dismissed the write up. The next day, he again attempted to write me up because he claimed that the day before, he didn't see me in my classroom until 8:20. At first, I told him that I'd actually arrived at 8, but reminded him that he'd told me to arrive before my students, so even at 8:20 I would've been fine. He let me know that I should always be at work at 8am in order to prepare for the day (this was confusing, because when I do arrive at 8, I'm usually the only teacher present in the entire school until about 8:15). I also pointed out that I had seen him at 8am and brought up a conversation we'd had. He insisted this conversation took place in the afternoon until I reminded him that a third person had joined us and that they could verify that my boss and I were together at 8am. When I brought this up, he again dismissed the write up. The very next day, he again wrote me up for walking in to my classroom at 8:10 a.m. I explained to him that I'd actually arrived a bit before 8, but had stopped in the teacher mail room for a few minutes and that I had also stopped in the restroom. He told me that it didn't matter when I entered the building, it was a "safety and supervision" issue for me to not be IN MY CLASSROOM at 8 am in order to get my lessons/materials ready for the day. I then produced for him my lessons, which are planned weeks ahead of time and proved that my materials are always out and ready for at least a few days in case I get sick. After this, he stated that even though I was in the building at 8 and my lessons were prepared, it was still a safety issue that I wasn't in my room and that I need to be in class - without leaving the room- from 8 am until my students arrive in order to -get ready for this one- check my voicemail! Yes, he was now seriously writing me up because I wasn't sitting in my room for 30 minutes checking VOICEMAIL!! Now I'm the type of person who will take responsibility when I make a mistake, but this was just getting ridiculous and nitpicky. I asked to have someone from HR present for this meeting, but they had all gone home for the day. Instead, he brought in a co worker from another department who is at the same level as I am on the chain of command, but doesn't even work in education. When I refused to sign the write up, he and this random coworker both informed me that I would be taken off the schedule and this was grounds for termination of my position, so after a lot of arguing I just signed it to get out of there.

Because our maternity leave policy SUCKS (not only are new mommies unpaid, but we have to pay THEM 75 bucks per week to keep health insurance, and who doesn't need health insurance when they're ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH??!)  I am trying to work up until the day I have my baby. I'm at 38 weeks now, and terrified that any wrong move I make will get me fired, resulting in me losing insurance coverage and having huge hospital bills to pay. So now I get to work at 7:45 and sit in my classroom for 45 minutes, afraid to even walk to the water cooler or the restroom out of fear that I'll get fired. I continue to be the only teacher present in the building before 8:15, and from those I've spoken with, the only one who's even been talked to for arriving after 8.

I feel so overwhelmed and powerless about this that I'm not even sure where to start. What the heck should I do?

Re: Told my boss I won't be returning from maternity leave, now he's trying to fire me!

  • Put on your happy face, bring the jerk starbucks...and grin and bear it.  He will get his someday Smile

     

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  • maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.
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  • I wouldnt have told him either until the very last minute.Sounds like they are looking for a reason to fire you.  Which sucks but some employers do that no matter how hard you work. Trust me, it happens. Im sure its not you, he is just being a jerk of a boss .
  • That sux, but I don't know what you can do.  Possibly approach HR about your policies and ensure you are following them, maybe express your concerns.  But I don't know if it will help, or if it is worth it since you are so close to the end.   If it does come down to him trying to fire you, I would not leave without a fight.  He sounds like a real jerk and he can't fire you for your honesty, but you need to be able to prove he is taking it over board.
  • Don't stir the fire until the last day!
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  • image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    I agree!  An a$$ like him doesn't deserve a heads up.  I would tell my boss, only because he's a great person and understanding, and only wants whats best for me.

  • i would document everything.  i would speak to someone in HR and who ever is in the chain above your boss.  HR should be able to inform you as to policies for making complaints against supervisors.  it is illegal to be discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy.  does he treat any other employees the same way?  these are all things you should be determining.  obviously you have only a couple of weeks before you are due and the last thing you want to or need to be focusing on is a potential lawsuit but you also don't need the threat of losing your health insurance dangling over your head.
  • I hate to repeat everyone else but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  I definitely understand being honest and trustworthy but companies and corporations are all about protecting themselves. 

    Moving forward, since you can't do anything about the past, I would insure you get an exit interview with HR so you can make sure his behavior is documented for the future.  Also start gathering items for your 'brag book' for when/ if you return to work.  This should include emails, awards, documents and anything else that showcases your excellence.  Good luck, I hope you keep your job for as long as you want it. 

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  • image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    Bad idea. If she receives any compensation while on leave (which could include health insurance), they can come back on her for it if she doesn't give proper notice.

    It also reflects poorly on one's character.

     

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  • i'm so sorry you're going through all this! you dont need any of this stress, especially pregnant!! I've worked with at risk youth and i know how tough and dangerous your job is.  make sure you take care of yourself number 1.  listen to your gut and follow it, you're the only one that knows the right thing to do! if he fires you, then he has to pay into your unemployment so let him! and if its unjustified you have a lawsuit on your hands...employers have to be real careful with preganant women.  keep your chin up, your baby is worth all of it!
  • If you get fired, can you get on your husband's insurance earlier? I think my insurance considers "loss of coverage under a different plan" as a "qualifying event" for enrollment. If this is the case for your husband's plan--and you were fired--maybe he could add you to his plan now, and you wouldn't have to stress about insurance.
  • You need to arrange a meeting with your HR manager to document everything that has happened thus far and update them when he makes any other false accusations. That way you have already started to build a case if he does try to fire you for something that isn't covered in your organization's employment policy.
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  • image kdodge423:

    image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    Bad idea. If she receives any compensation while on leave (which could include health insurance), they can come back on her for it if she doesn't give proper notice.

    It also reflects poorly on one's character.

     

    This exactly.  It is frowned upon (and just down right stupid) to lie to your employer about your plans after the baby.  If you plan on not returning, you need to tell them that before you have the baby.  It will come to bite you in the butt later.
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  • I'm not sure what your husband does for work, but can't you reassess health insurance benefits at most jobs if there has been a change in status of your family or a family members health insurance?

    I know for one of the girls on IF she was able to get on her husbands insurance in the middle of the year because she lost her coverage.

    Also, I was able to get onto my husbands insurance when I switched to a job that didn't offer it as a benefit.


    They are going to let us add our baby when she is born, we just have to give them a birth certificate and she is covered from the day of her birth. 

    It might be worth looking into in your situation. Sorry your boss is a douche. 

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  • image mmclaussen:
    You need to arrange a meeting with your HR manager to document everything that has happened thus far and update them when he makes any other false accusations. That way you have already started to build a case if he does try to fire you for something that isn't covered in your organization's employment policy.

    This.  Also, you should have access to your personnel files - and you should be able to attach a written explanation or addendum to a write-up.  So, for the write-up you just signed, write an explanation saying that you refused to sign and were threatened with termination if you did not sign, and have it added to your file along with the write-up. 

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  • as soon as i told my boss i was pregnant she pulled the same stunt, after the 4th time she called me into her office to have a little write up chat i told her i would be finishing out the week then i'm done. i worked there for 6 years and the way they treated me after i became pregnant was ridiculous. i was expected to sit at a desk for 5-10 hours at a time with no break, bathroom or lunch, which was really fun when i had my morning sickness
  • image kdodge423:

    image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    Bad idea. If she receives any compensation while on leave (which could include health insurance), they can come back on her for it if she doesn't give proper notice.

    It also reflects poorly on one's character.

     

     

    eh, I dunno.  I wouldn't have told only because she was planning on come back, albeit for a few months while she waited for her and the baby to get onto DH's insurance.  If it were me, I would have told/given my notice after, during that brief time that I was back after maternity leave.  He still would have been given ample notice had she waited til then.

    As sucky as it is and how he is treating her, it happens.  Like other's have suggested, I'd document everything and speak with HR about what it happening and what the written policies state about when to be in the classroom in the morning.

    That said, I don't how much I'd be willing to fight it if I knew I wasn't coming back.  I don't know if it would be worth the effort.


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  • I'm sorry you are having to deal with this, and you have been handling it like a champ...much better than I would have. 

    As for the issues you are worried about...

    Are you a union employee?  If so, contact your union rep immediately.  They would be ALL over this. 

    As for insurance, you probably qualify for cobra.  So, if you are terminated, you have up to six months of COBRA to pay for any medical expenses.  Sure, the payment for the insurance will be higher, but it will be much less expensive then paying for all medical costs yourself.  Good luck!

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  • image LittleApple:
    image kdodge423:

    image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    Bad idea. If she receives any compensation while on leave (which could include health insurance), they can come back on her for it if she doesn't give proper notice.

    It also reflects poorly on one's character.

     

    This exactly.  It is frowned upon (and just down right stupid) to lie to your employer about your plans after the baby.  If you plan on not returning, you need to tell them that before you have the baby.  It will come to bite you in the butt later.

    Depends on your company's policies.  Where I work it would be perfectly acceptable to take mat leave and then announce while you are off work that your plans are to not return.

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  • Go to HR ASAP!!!!! and don't leave any details out!!!

    take careful notes of everything, copies of your time card, hell take pictures of the classroom clock with a newspaper everyday.....

    this is discrimination and needs to be treated as such. It is tricky and exhausting; if you have a lawyer, you may want to call them and get advice!

    GL!

  • image welcel:

    I'm sorry you are having to deal with this, and you have been handling it like a champ...much better than I would have. 

    As for the issues you are worried about...

    Are you a union employee?  If so, contact your union rep immediately.  They would be ALL over this. 

    As for insurance, you probably qualify for cobra.  So, if you are terminated, you have up to six months of COBRA to pay for any medical expenses.  Sure, the payment for the insurance will be higher, but it will be much less expensive then paying for all medical costs yourself.  Good luck!

    This.  Also, if they do terminate you, you could probably collect unemployment.  I feel really bad for you.  I had a principal almost like this who was a total jerk...if he didn't like you, he would find any excuse to write up something negative.  A friend of mine was in her 3rd tri, and we had block scheduling (84 minute classes).  He wrote on her observation that she was not at the door to greet her students in between classes - she had two in a row (because she had to go to bathroom!).  Hopefully this guy will get what's coming to him.  


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  • Good lord this guy sounds like a grade a dbag.

    I really think you need to get HR involved, I wouldn't stand for any of this and neither should you. It's terrible to see him come at you everyday with such BS. =(

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  • Oh my gosh, I am SO sorry! It is a really horrible experience to have to always walk on eggshells, constantly have to defend yourself, and have a jerky boss intimidate you at every turn. You should document everything that has transpired and talk to HR if anything should happen. GL!
    Claire Zoe, 10.26.10

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  • Thanks everyone for the advice. It might help to add that my husband was recently laid off and unless he is able to find a new engineering job (difficult in this economy) he won't have employer health coverage until sometime between February and April. Baby is due Nov 21st, so I would have to return in February if he doesn't have insurance yet.

    Also, I got pregnant within the same week that my boss sadly lost his newborn daughter, and he hasn't been the same toward me since. I have a feeling this could be a part of it.

  • This is why you don't tell anyone that you're not coming back until you start your leave and have finalized your decision.  And do it with good intentions - I don't take the full paid leave knowing that you're not coming back and tell them the last day, leaving them hanging... just get all your ducks in a row with insurance and then tell them once its all done.  

    It looks like he's just trying to cover his bases - he knows that you'll be gone for leave, then come back for 2 months and leave for good - when it just makes sense for the organization to just get someone new NOW since they know you're leaving anyway.  

    I really wouldn't have told them your plans.

     

  • image kdodge423:

    image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    Bad idea. If she receives any compensation while on leave (which could include health insurance), they can come back on her for it if she doesn't give proper notice.

    It also reflects poorly on one's character.

     

    Usually its written somewhere about what type of notice they would want and if you would have to repay any compensation... and since she already has to pay THEM $75 a week to take unpaid leave, she wouldn't owe them anything since they're not paying her.

    I just told my former employer (the US Senate) that I wasn't sure if I would be coming back because I liked my job and we needed my income, but there was no way I could make a final decision until after the baby came, which was 100% true.  I did not WANT to come back, I wanted to stay home and was hoping to stay home, but I wasn't going to tell them that because no decisions had been made.  Because of that, we hired a temp who I trained for 2 weeks before I started my leave.  She ended up being offered the permanent position.  I ended up taking 3 weeks of my leave (only 4 days of which was paid, the rest was PTO that I'd accumulated and was owed) and that's when DH and I figured how we could work it out financially.  I told them in person immediately and my bosses, the Chief of Staff and Senator actually thought that by me telling them 8 weeks before my leave was supposed to end that I was requesting 8 more weeks of paid leave.  I had to explain to them that no, I was ceasing pay immediately that day and I showed them how to fill out the paperwork.  I was honest and ethical, but did not return to work and still have a great relationship with all of my former colleagues and the Senator because of how it was handled.

  • Others have covered involving HR. The one thing I didn't see mentioned was COBRA which allows you to continue on with your health policy (you may 100% plus an admin fee, but it is better than nothing). I would check with HR to find out if you would be eligible for COBRA should things go south.
  • image lissydee:
    image kdodge423:

    image laceyjean1:
    maybe it's just me, but I wouldn't have told him in the first place.  Or at the very least waited until you were on leave with the baby.

    Bad idea. If she receives any compensation while on leave (which could include health insurance), they can come back on her for it if she doesn't give proper notice.

    It also reflects poorly on one's character

     

    eh, I dunno.  I wouldn't have told only because she was planning on come back, albeit for a few months while she waited for her and the baby to get onto DH's insurance.  If it were me, I would have told/given my notice after, during that brief time that I was back after maternity leave.  He still would have been given ample notice had she waited til then.

    As sucky as it is and how he is treating her, it happens.  Like other's have suggested, I'd document everything and speak with HR about what it happening and what the written policies state about when to be in the classroom in the morning.

    That said, I don't how much I'd be willing to fight it if I knew I wasn't coming back.  I don't know if it would be worth the effort.

    I was also taking into account that she planned on coming back for a few months after.  And also the fact that she was paying them, not the other way around.  And from the sounds of it right now, it doesn't seem like her character is being taken into consideration even with the extended notice.  So I still stick with the should have waited.  But what's done is done, hopefully it will go by fast and uneventful.

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  • image Mrs.Johns:

    I'm not sure what your husband does for work, but can't you reassess health insurance benefits at most jobs if there has been a change in status of your family or a family members health insurance?

    I know for one of the girls on IF she was able to get on her husbands insurance in the middle of the year because she lost her coverage.

    Also, I was able to get onto my husbands insurance when I switched to a job that didn't offer it as a benefit.


    They are going to let us add our baby when she is born, we just have to give them a birth certificate and she is covered from the day of her birth. 

    It might be worth looking into in your situation. Sorry your boss is a douche. 

    MOst of this.  I assume the wait is b/c of open enrollment but legally when you have a major life change you don't have to wait, it's immediate coverage.  I've never heard of anyone having to wait for a new birth.

     I'm afraid that it sounds like by trying to be a good citizen you screwed yourself. :(  Best thing at this point is probably to quietly document everything but kiss his butt a little, mind your p's and q's and just get through the rest of your pregnancy. 

    And as Mrs' J said...sorry your boss is a douche.

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  • I work in HR, and one - you do have the right to wait until there is an HR rep available to sit with you during these discussions he has with you. Two, you really should sit with someone in HR and discuss the troubles you're having with your boss and the concerns you have now. There is also some research you can do on hostile work environment because that seems to be what he has created for you. If nothing in your employee handbook or company policy states that you have to be in your classroom at a specific time, then he cannot write you up for it. If the policy is just that you have to be in your classroom before your students then there is nothing he can do as long as your there before 8:30. I'm not sure what state you live in so laws can vary state-to-state, but you do need to consult someone in HR and clear this up before you are stressed any further. 

     

     

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