April 2013 Moms

Is my employer allowed to do this to me???

I found out I was pregnant the day before I started a new position with my company.  The job is on a construction site in the middle of the empty desert that stretches between Southern California and Arizona, and the nearest hospital is 45 minutes away.  I took the job specifically for the money, because it was a huge raise, and greatly needed.  And of course, the need significantly increased when I found out my husband and I were expecting our first child.  However, next Friday will be my last day at this job (not by my choice).  My supervisor is making me go back to my old office.  His reasoning is that it is closer to a hospital and that is very important if anything were to happen to me.  I completely agree. That is not where the problem is.  The problem is, they are cutting my income a great deal.  With the job I have now comes a few perks, including a company vehicle and more importantly, a company gas card, which helps me save huge with the way gas prices are now.  My old office is about 1.5 hours from my house now.  As a side note, I use to live 10 mins from my old job, but the new one required that I move to the area so another perk of this job was that they pay a daily subsistence for that, on top of my hourly wages.  The job I'm going back to has the hourly wages cut, I loose my company vehicle along with the gas card, and I no longer get the daily subsistence.  Needless to say, things are going to be extremely tight with our finances now.  I feel like something is wrong with this situation.  As I said, I completely understand and agree with wanting to be closer to a hospital in the case of an emergency.  But plain and simple, I'm losing A TON of money by making this move back.  I was once told that an employer is not allowed cut wages like that when the reasoning has something to do with pregnancy.  Is that correct?  If they aren't doing anything wrong, then it is what it is and DH and I will figure out a way to make it work.  I just don't want to be getting screwed over.  Also, I know that I have been lucky in getting a job like this with all of the perks.  Not everyone is so lucky and I am very grateful for that.  I don't want to come across like a spoiled brat complaining that they're taking things away from me.  I just want to be able to stand up and take care of the situation if I'm being wronged.  
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Re: Is my employer allowed to do this to me???

  • Hmm. It sounds like a catch 22 because you want and need to move, you just don't want to lose any perks. Is there a way you could postpone the move until you are closer to your due date? You still have ten weeks. And then what is the plan once baby is born? Can you go back to the job and location you're in now? 
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  • That sounds like an HR question, if your company has an HR dept. It sounds a little fishy to me, but I'm by no means an expert.

    That said...I live 30 minutes from *any* hospital - I don't being 45 minutes away from a hospital would be that big of a deal to me, honestly. Can you just politely decline the offer to move, saying you'll take your chances?

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  • are your job duties changing? i do know an employer can cut wages if your job title/duties changes. now if its the same position and same duties they shouldnt be able to cut your wages. 
    Bradley Houston - 04.01.13
  • I'm not an HR professional, these are just my thoughts based on the info you provided: 

    I wonder if it was the way they presented the situation to you that somehow made it legal?  Did you have the opportunity to "agree" to the move or did they just say you were doing it and you didn't have a choice and here's the reason why we are moving you?  I'm pretty sure if they are moving you back to your old position and the only reason given was related to your pregnancy but you did not "agree" to the move (including cut in pay, benefits, etc) then they are breaking some rules.  However, if they suggested the move to you because of their concerns and you seemingly agreed (maybe at the time, not realizing the consequences of pay cut, etc), then somehow it was a mutual agreement and they can get away with it?  I'm just speculating based on how I read what you wrote and my limited knowledge of employment laws ;)

    However, usually if you were promoted to a position and then failed probation in the new position, they could move you back to your original position without your agreement. But their reasoning would have to be job performance related and NOT to do with your pregnancy or their concerns for your well being (which, I would think, they are allowed to voice but cannot make decisions for you on without your agreement!)

    I hope everything works out favorably for you...and that someone with legit HR knowledge on the subject chimes in so that you're guided in the proper direction!

  • image mariahrb:
    are your job duties changing? i do know an employer can cut wages if your job title/duties changes. now if its the same position and same duties they shouldnt be able to cut your wages. 

    This.  Since it sounds like the position is changing, they probably can cut your income/benefits, but definitely worth a conversation with HR.

    I agree with another PP though - if you are otherwise fine working at your current site, 45 mins from the hospital wouldn't be my concern.  The day your water breaks or you start to feel contractions, 45 minutes is plenty of time to make it where you need to be - whether that's home to labor for a few hours, or straight to the hospital if its an emergency situation.

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  • In Canada, this would be illegal, but the laws vary in every state, so I don't really know whether it is legal or not in your area.  If your company has an HR department I would speak to them, otherwise it may be worth seeking out a consultation with an employment lawyer.  Many lawyers offer free 30 minute consultations.
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  • No advice but I'm a second time mom delivering at a hospital that's an hour away.
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  • So the only reason they are doing this is because you would be closer to a hospital at the other location? Sounds like BS to me if that is the case. I have no idea where the closest hospital from my office is. They could probably suggest you stop working 2 weeks from your due date if that is a concern. Like PP asked, what is the plan after you deliver?

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  • Let me answer these questions...

      Hmm. It sounds like a catch 22 because you want and need to move, you just don't want to lose any perks. Is there a way you could postpone the move until you are closer to your due date? You still have ten weeks. And then what is the plan once baby is born? Can you go back to the job and location you're in now? 

    They refuse to let me stay past the "8 month" mark, being 32 weeks.  I'll be going on paid maternity leave, and I'll be getting disability payments as well.  By the time I come back from maternity leave this project will be completed.  I can try to get on with another project, but that will require me to move again.

     That sounds like an HR question, if your company has an HR dept. It sounds a little fishy to me, but I'm by no means an expert. 

    Our HR department consists of one incompetent woman that I don't trust at all.  She has a history of lying to people to avoid any sort of confrontation, be it personal or company related, big or small.  I don't feel like I would get accurate information out of her at all.  

    That said...I live 30 minutes from *any* hospital - I don't being 45 minutes away from a hospital would be that big of a deal to me, honestly. Can you just politely decline the offer to move, saying you'll take your chances?

    I agree with you on this one, and I've tried but they simply won't let me.  A firm "No" is all I am getting. 

    are your job duties changing? i do know an employer can cut wages if your job title/duties changes. now if its the same position and same duties they shouldnt be able to cut your wages. 

    Actually, my job duties are going to be increasing a bit.  My job title is changing and everything and I will be busier with the new job than I am with this one.

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  • Don't forget Az is a right to work state, so I think sadly I would just be happy I still had a job.
    But like pp, I would check with HR and see what they say or just tell them youre fine with having the hospital do far away, and if you are not high risk get doctor/medical proof to show them you are fine. Just a thought.
    Also were your perks going to still be there when this particular project ended???
    Edit due to additional info.
  • Sounds like a situation where it would be worthwhile to call an employment lawyer for advice or maybe consult your state's department of labor or something like that.  I don't practice in employment law, but my understanding is that your employer can't make decisions for you like whether you can continue to work at a certain site just because of the distance from the hospital.  The flip side, as others have mentioned, is that if this project was going to be over anyhow and you would have lost all those perks when you returned to the job after leave, is it worth creating trouble with your employer over it now?
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  • I don't know if this is legal or not.  I do know that normally when you go into labor, you have several hours of laboring at home before you go to the hospital, so I would think that being an hour or so away wouldn't be that big of a deal
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  • image Kate_C:
    Sounds like a situation where it would be worthwhile to call an employment lawyer for advice or maybe consult your state's department of labor or something like that.  I don't practice in employment law, but my understanding is that your employer can't make decisions for you like whether you can continue to work at a certain site just because of the distance from the hospital.  The flip side, as others have mentioned, is that if this project was going to be over anyhow and you would have lost all those perks when you returned to the job after leave, is it worth creating trouble with your employer over it now?

    I would have gotten to keep my vehicle and gas card, and when returning to my home office my hourly wages would have stayed the same. 

    I hate the idea of making waves, but something in the back of my head is telling me that they're just hoping that I'll go along with this without asking questions.  When they mentioned the move back, I made it perfectly clear that losing the money was my biggest concern.  I really didn't "agree" to any of this...I was more or less pushed into it.  My boss out here said that if I didn't make the decision on my own to leave before or at 32 weeks, he would pack my stuff up and make me leave.  He said he refuses to let me stay, whether I felt like I could or not.  I almost feel...for lack of a better term, bullied into this.  

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  • What state are you employed in?  I know you said your work location was the desert between CA and AZ but I'm not clear on what state you reside/are employed. 

    CA has the Employment Development Department and although they may not be the right place to go, they will definitely be able to refer you to someone who can give you advice on the subject.  Specifically it would probably be the Equal Employment Opportunity Officer of EDD, is my guess.

    I'm hoping you have some of this documented in email or written form. If so, print it out so that you have copies.  If all of this happened during verbal conversations, write notes immediately about dates/times, who said what, who else was there and witnessed the conversations, etc. You may very well need these things to prove your case if things were not handled legally.

    Good luck to you!

  • Do you think they would be telling you to move jobs if you were not pregnant? It doesn't sound like it since your supervisor told you it is based on being closer to a hospital for your pregnancy. I'm almost certain this is illegal as per the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which would apply if the company has 15 or more employees. You'd have to weigh the pros and cons to see if it is worth pursuing action and consulting an employment lawyer or filing a complain with the EEOC. But from the sound of it, it is illegal, and if your performance has been good, you could have a good case.
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  • From what it sounds like (and I would need MUCH more info to give you a really good HR opinion), the position was temporary when you took it.  Basically, you were added to a project and the project had a drop-dead date when it would be done.  I would need to know what the original plan was at that time??  While I would not have cut your time short without other information (like the physical nature of the job, your performance to this point, etc.), I think they should have worked with you more to get to a consensus about how comfortable you were,etc.  One thing that I do want to know and I am not an expert on Arizona law, but, is your disability pay based on your old wage or new?  I would have an issue with that, in itself. 
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  • The laws differ from state to state, but where I live, this would be illegal. I'm even on a restricted work load right now (so much so that I can't complete all of my regular duties) and my job still can't demote me because there are laws here protecting pregnant women's rights. As far as them forcing you to move to be closer to the hospital, I work nearly an hour from the hospital I'll be delivering at. I'll be starting my maternity leave a few weeks before my due date, and as long as I don't go into preterm labor or have an problems, it shouldn't be a huge concern.
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  • You agree you want to be closer, and you understood this job with increase was in a differnet place?

    I mean I don't agree with the hospital thing under an hour is fine and I don't agree you should be demoted because you are preg.

    But you can't have a higher paying Job by not doing the job.
  • image letranger:
    You agree you want to be closer, and you understood this job with increase was in a differnet place? I mean I don't agree with the hospital thing under an hour is fine and I don't agree you should be demoted because you are preg. But you can't have a higher paying Job by not doing the job.

    Definitely - but I think OP's issue, is can they force her into a different job because she's pregnant? (Even though, from what I understand, she's still able to complete the job duties of her higher paying job.)

    OP, keep us updated, I'm really interested to hear how this ends up!

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