When I first fell pregnant, I was working at a small discount store as a cashier. I had been there about a year, and I was treated fairly for the most part, until I told my manager I was pregnant. Suddenly, they were scheduling me for times that were outside of my availability, and for a few weeks, they would change my schedule after it was posted. (For example, I didn’t work weekends and the schedule was posted on a Friday. I would check it that Friday and write down what time I was supposed to be there on Monday. Then I would come in on Monday and find that the schedule was changed over the weekend so I was actually supposed to be there one or two hours before the time I first wrote down.) Between that and my manager verbally harassing me, I feel like I was eventually bullied into quitting.
This brings me to my next “employer.” Because I quit my job as a cashier I needed to find a new job, and fast. Unfortunately, there was no one in the area who would hire me, being four months pregnant. That is until I applied at a locally owned cellphone repair shop. I came in for an interview with the owner, which went well. He said I seemed very professional and personable and he would love to hire me. This was when I came out with what felt like my dirty little secret. I told him that I was an honest person, and I wasn’t about to lie about expecting a baby. You could see his face drop. His whole tone changed within a second. He told me that the only way he was going to hire me at this point was if I agreed to work for him under the table. He promised to put me on the books once I had my son and returned to work. This allowed him to schedule me whenever he wanted, and make any remark to me he pleased when I was there. It also allowed him to pay me seven dollars an hour, and ask me to work as long as he wanted. He asked me to lift heavy boxes, and climb ladders to stock top shelves, and would become very ornery if I refused, often reminding me what a “good guy” he was for giving me the opportunity to work for him at all.
I’ll admit now that my working for him was a very stupid idea, but at the time I felt like I had no other choice since, as I stated earlier, no one in the area would hire me. When my son was born (at 34 weeks and in the NICU) I received a text message from my “boss” saying he no longer needed me, and that he found someone “more qualified” to fill the position. Looking back on it now, I’m glad it ended up that way. But it just amazes me how easily employers took advantage of me solely for being pregnant.