Would you employ a pregnant woman?

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Article 10 of the Charter of rights and freedoms stipulates that discrimination based on pregnancy is prohibited, including employment.

Would you employ a pregnant woman ? If the question may seem surprising — and discriminatory, in the event of a reply in the negative, it raises a sense of profound discomfort, for both women in this situation is that among some of the patrons.


“Why someone would do that ?” exclaims spontaneously Eric*, a manager in the retail sector, which has a hundred employees under his / her direction. “This is the fun that you reproduises genetics “, he adds, but for an employer, this situation involves ” too much risk “.


“I’m going to waste my time. It will be necessary to hire two people. It is not easy to find candidates of the same calibre for replacement of maternity leave. “


“If a woman told me in an interview that she is pregnant, I would be really pissed off,” says his side Robert*, a manager in the media world.


“It is touchy in tabarnouche,” he admits. If I was the leader of my own business, I would hire, because it is important for me to respect the laws. “


Robert confides, however, is the Duty of his boss to him would not agree with such a decision. “I would have been shot by my boss if I was doing this. It is sure that it would be poorly received. The patrons generally think in terms of profitability and efficiency. “


Doubts even among women


“If it was me who embauchais and they told me [“I’m pregnant”] in an interview… I would find that the person made me lose my time and that she has lost hers, ” says Marie-Josée Beaudoin, yet herself pregnant and in search of employment.


Last July, at the age of 38, this dynamic woman graduated in management, has quit her job as communication advisor. After five years in office, including maternity leave, she wished to start looking for a job more relevant to his strengths and his personality.


But immediately after she stopped working, she became pregnant, and she still wishes to work prior to the arrival of the baby.


“There are plenty of jobs for which I want to file my candidacy,” said Ms. Beaudoin. But the jobs are permanent. I can’t say : “Hire me, I give you five months”. “


For Marie-Christine Ladouceur-Girard, the situation is presented otherwise, but not without raising questions. When she becomes aware, in 2016, the display for the position of director of the Office of the integration of newcomers to Montreal (BINAM), she thinks she’s found the perfect job.


“I had the impression that the post had been written for me,” she recalls. Only downside : at this time, she was four months pregnant.


“People have said to me : “It’s like that. You’re pregnant, you can’t postulate, it is not the right time for you. There will be other opportunities.” “She herself did not believe in his chances. Then, a mentor encouraged her. “She told me : “If you were a man, you would stop them from applying ?” “


At the end of a process that lasted several months, Mrs. Ladouceur-Girard has been selected for the position. The City of Montreal has hired an interim director in the meantime the host.


“People understand that I could have a disease and become unavailable. It is necessary to put things in perspective and remember what the priorities are, ” says the 32-year old woman.


A criterion discriminatory


The Commission on human rights and youth rights is categorical : as stipulated in article 10 of the Charter of rights and freedoms, discrimination based on pregnancy is prohibited, including employment.


Employers guilty of such discrimination may be required to pay material damages, moral and exemplary damages.


Thus, the Court of human rights has condemned, in 2003, the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) to pay 37 628,20 $, more benefits, a woman who has managed to prove that she had not been selected for the post of controller of road because she was pregnant.


In a separate decision in 2010, the court ordered the Commission scolaire des Hauts-Bois-de-l’outaouais to pay 49 639,60 $ to a teacher for similar reasons.


Despite these two examples, which relate to public bodies, Denis Morin, a professor in the Department of organization and human resources School of management sciences of UQAM, says that the hiring of pregnant women is done “regularly” in the unionized sectors, large companies and the public service. The reservations are greater, according to him, in the SMES.


According to the professor, the human resources services are increasingly composed of women, and perhaps they are consequently more sensitive to these issues.


It does, however, warned companies : “It is enough for an employer to make that discrimination… The brand image of the company requires to comply with the Charter. “


*Aliases — the managers who responded to questions of Duty, wished to keep anonymity.

At what point does the say ?

There are no rules to follow, for a woman, as to the best time to announce to a potential employer that she is pregnant. But for Denis Morin, the interview is a good time. According to him, the ” psychological contract “, which seals the relationship of trust between an employee and his superior begins at the time of the recruitment process.

Although an employer cannot ask a woman if she is pregnant, it should be noted, writes the professor. “As a candidate, you have to explain it and see the reaction of the employer. “If the employer does not react well to this announcement, the wife has to ask if she really wants to work in this business,” he said.

“Is it necessary that it be the first thing to say in the interview, as if he felt guilty ? No. I think it is somewhere between the two, ” supports his side Mrs. Ladouceur-Girard. It has chosen to put their cards on the table after the first interview, but before the final steps in the hiring process.

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