Karel van der Molen
Karel is an admitted attorney and a Master Human Resource Practitioner and Registered Mentor with the South African Board for People Practice, having obtained completed various qualifications in law, human resource management and financial services. Read more
I am 19 weeks pregnant and applied for a position that I really want and have the skills and experience for. I was honest right from my application and informed the recruiter that I am pregnant. The recruiter come back saying they don't see it to be an issue and would discuss it with their client. Soon after the recruiter came back to me to inform me that the client is not interested because they are expecting high volumes of work and that my pregnancy will be a problem. I do understand their concern but feel that they could at least have met with me and find out my capability and flexibility that I might have to offer. I feel that the company didn't behave fairly. Do they have to reject me because of the reason they gave?
This is indeed a very unfortunate situation (to put it mildly!) which you have experienced – and I have no doubt that this is an experience with which a number of the readers of the Women24 Careers website can identify.
I cannot stress the point enough (and I have done so frequently in the more recent past) that the Constitution, 1996 makes it very clear that a woman may not be discriminated against on the basis of her pregnancy. And this therefore means that the company cannot decide not to appoint you because of your pregnancy. So, if the only reason is that the organisation does not wish to appoint a pregnant woman purely on the basis of her pregnancy, this would be seen to be an unfair labour practice in terms of the Constitution, the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the Employment Equity Act, 1998.
But, it must also be said that there may well be situations where an employer can exercise its prerogative and not employ a pregnant woman where the position or type of work could put the woman or her unborn child at risk. But, although you have not noted the industry or the position in your question, I have a feeling that this is not one where there is a potential difficulty for you or your unborn child.
I must say that the comment made by the recruiter is problematic as he/she should be aware of these issues and the legal position in situations of this nature.
This is, in my opinion and as mentioned at the start of my answer, a matter of an unfair labour practice. I would therefore like to suggest that if you do wish to take this matter further, you should consult with a labour lawyer in your area who will be in a position to advise as to the way forward at this time.
This is a broad sweep through your question – please do submit another question to the website if you require any further assistance or information.
Good luck with your endeavours – and with your pregnancy!