I’m pregnant and I don’t know even know where to begin when it comes to navigating workplace issues.
First of all, congratulations! For me, becoming a parent was one of the most thrilling, exciting, perspective-growing experiences I could imagine. Recognizing my responsibilities to model the behaviors I want to teach my daughters to emulate, teaching them to be generous and kind, trying to inculcate them with self-esteem, and teaching them literally everything else they need to know, often feels like an infinite task.
One of the most important things to me as a parent is enabling my daughters to take control of their destinies and to truly accept their responsibilities as captains of their own ships. This meant standing up for myself and for my rights at work. As women, we’ve spent your entire life being told to quiet down, to take up less space, to be nicer, to be more deferential. Maybe you’ve successfully resisted those messages, to some degree. Maybe you’re already a ball buster with a spine of steel.
But when you become a parent, especially a mom, all of a sudden, the whole world is trying to force a new identity on you. Suddenly, it’s all cutesy, “mommy” stuff, like “tee hee mommy’s night out!” instead of “having a regular drink like an effing adult”. With my clients especially, their fight is in the workplace, it’s even more important – fighting to preserve your identity as strong, smart professional, who is capable and worthy of respect, is a matter of survival. For me, this meant proving that I could still be a great, aggressive litigator, while meeting my client’s needs for empathy and communication; not some sassy ball-busting cartoon holding a baby bottle in one hand and a briefcase in another.
For me personally, when my employer tried to screw me out of my agreed upon maternity leave, it was a defining moment. I had the job security and wherewithal to tell them to screw off. But I know that not everybody does. That’s why I decided to start this firm helping other women prepare with how to deal with that scenario and empowering people who are going through possibly their most important life change to say “go screw yourself” to anyone who would belittle them, disparage them, or otherwise try to cheat them out of the time and money that they and their new children deserve.
The law does provide some protections. Check out our pregnancy rights primer for an overview of the legal landscape. Ultimately, if your employer does majorly screw you, I am here to teach them a lesson. But I know from (a lot of) experience that it is generally in your best interest if you can avoid having to litigate. That’s why I devote a lot of my time to discussing negotiation strategies. Click here for more information about Crumiller PC’ Negotiation Coaching services.
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