If being laid off and scrambling to find a new job isn’t stressful enough, imagine having to do it when you’re expecting a baby.
That’s the predicament Karin Zannella, 35, of Fairfield, Conn., found herself in while pregnant with her first child in 2011. Though she was just eight weeks along (and wasn’t showing yet), Zannella decided to inform both companies she interviewed with for a new job.
“I was very nervous, as I knew I could be risking my shot at either job, but I knew that it was the right thing to do to ensure it was the right fit—both short term and long term,” says Zannella, who is now a senior manager of customer marketing and sales planning for a major food brand.
She wanted to use her pregnancy news as an opportunity to ask each employer about their willingness to let her work from home two days after her baby arrived, so she told them over the phone before her third round of interviews.
“I could have kept it quiet until I was hired and well into my second trimester. But I felt that it was important to be upfront and honest from the start in order to gauge how each would respond to my situation,” says Zannella.
In the end, her honesty paid off. Both companies responded that her pregnancy news didn’t affect her candidacy—and she ultimately received two offers. She accepted the one that gave her the best flexibility.
Zannella’s story is the best-case scenario. But are other pregnant women as fortunate? While employers are legally barred from treating pregnant women differently than other candidates under the aptly named Pregnancy Discrimination Act (which was created in 1978 largely as a result of said discrimination), we talked to career and legal experts who say telling a prospective employer you’re expecting isn’t always the best move.
Of course there’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to a topic as delicate as this. Here’s what you need to know when deciding if—or when—to reveal your pregnancy during a job search.