I’m a scientific professional in state government. Civil service positions such as mine, and the hiring, firing, and promotion of said positions, are rigid and promulgated in Civil Service Law. In our state, there is a “list” which one gets on through a position-specific exam (similar to professional boards or licensure exams), sometimes also weighted with education, experience, or military service. The person being hired or promoted must be “reachable” on that list, meaning in the top 3 scorers of the exam. It is also important to note that Equal Opportunity Employment and Affirmative Action policies are also in place and each appointment is reviewed by an EOE officer. In my title, because it is so male dominated, women are considered a “protected class.” Not hiring a “reachable” protected class candidate requires the filing of additional paperwork including a detailed explanation why the non-protected class candidate was more qualified for the job, which can still be overturned by the EOE officer.
Recently, I was up for promotion at #1 on the list. When a position opened in a different division, I was called for an interview. I was also 7 months pregnant. When I walked in to the enclave to meet my male interviewers, I was taken aback by the very poorly suppressed looks of surprise directed at my belly. The interviewers shifted and twitched in their seats throughout the interview, yet I nailed it.
When they announced a week later that they offered the position to a white male (#2 on the list), they called me into the same enclave and proceeded to kiss my ass for an hour, telling me what a hard decision it was, that I was such a great candidate with great experience and skills, that they wished they could hire both of us, but they, “needed someone who could hit the ground running.” So basically, “someone not taking a maternity leave in a couple of months.” I was so dumbfounded by this out of left field ass-kissing session which clearly was a plea for me to not challenge the decision or file a complaint, that I remained mostly speechless by the whole ordeal. I regret this, and I wish I had questioned them directly about my pregnancy. Or pressed them precisely about how the other candidate was more skilled or experienced. These answers remain in my confidential employee file, and I just filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to see my file. I’m dying to read the protected class exemption explanation. After I had my child and had returned to work, I was promoted within my division due to management’s attempt to promote another white male, #2 on the updated list (I was still #1). This time the EOE officer ruled their explanation weak and they had to hire me in addition to the other guy or lose the promotion position. My management is still angry about this, having had to juggle and trade open positions with other regions and divisions to get two openings. But I could give a rat’s ass, I deserve it.