female boss being extremely unpleasant re my pregnancy

(49 Posts)
KBruin Wed 22-Jan-14 15:43:34

Hi all! Am new to mumsnet, pregnant for the first time - 12 weeks. Does anyone have any advice on how to handle a female boss who is behaving in a particularly challenging and hostile way regarding my pregnancy?

Unfortunately she is our HR / Legal Counsel within the business so I really have nowhere to turn right now!

Our pregnancy has been slightly compromised, resulting in a number of maternity and hospital appointments which meant I had to tell her about the pregnancy before i really wanted to.

Her instant reaction was to tell me that i am ‘not sick’ i am ‘pregnant’ – and that my attendance is not expected to dip (i have been employed by this company for over four years and have never taken any more than 5 or 6 days sick a year – ever!).

Upon producing all letters and documents as requested she told me that ‘an appointment starting at 12:00 means you can be back at work by 14:00’. I tried to explain that this is the NHS and things may take longer, etc. She said ‘they had better not’, spun on her heel and walked away.

We had further issues yesterday at the hospital meaning that what was supposed to be a quick appointment became protracted by more tests. Because this happened on the spot i do not have supporting letters and she is being incredibly unpleasant about it. This morning she started talking – VERY LOUDLY – re my pregnancy in our open plan office when this is actually something i wish to remain private. She has not asked re my wellbeing or the babies, or even how we are doing. She sneers and is trying to make me feel as awful as possible for wanting to attend these appointments. She can see that I am exhausted, stressed and worried for the health of my baby and almost seems to be enjoying it!!

The complications within the pregnancy are making things tough enough and right now i am torn between bawling my eyes out with frustration and smacking her teeth down her throat (pregnancy hormones!!)

Has anyone experienced, or is experiencing a similar issue, and what are the best ways to handle this? I will be working here until the end of May and I really don’t think I can cope with her nasty attitude for another 4 months! She is in her 40s and has chosen not to have children.

Thanks so much! x

HomeHelpMeGawd Wed 22-Jan-14 15:50:35

Poor you.

Sounds to me she might be looking to have you walk, ie constructive dismissal. I think you need to get some formal legal advice very quickly.

There's a list of places you can call for free legal advice at the end of this leaflet: www.maternityaction.org.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/pregnancyandmaternityrelatedproblems.pdf

Good luck

JeanSeberg Wed 22-Jan-14 15:55:52

First of all congratulations on your pregnancy! What a shame that this arsehole is ruining things for you.

I know you say she is HR/Legal Counsel but who is her boss?

In the meantime, make a log of everything that's been said/done so far and add to it every time there is a new incident.

Hotbot Wed 22-Jan-14 15:57:13

She is quite right , you are not sick ,you are pregnant, this entitles yup,to a raft of elegant protection whilst working. I suggest you remind her of,that ,!
What a cow.
Congratulations by the way.

Hotbot Wed 22-Jan-14 15:57:51

God.....raft of legal protection

cupoftchai Wed 22-Jan-14 16:01:49

She is completely out of order in how she is acting to u and in discussing your preg in front of others. However, is 5or6 sick days a year not quite a lot? Does your company have a policy about handling sick days?

Tigerstripes Wed 22-Jan-14 16:03:45

I have had my work make things similarly unpleasant and stressful regarding a health issue, so not through pregnancy but just as difficult to deal with. I contacted my union for help but also went over my boss's head to a more senior member of staff, who has managed to sort things out for now. Could you do that? And, in the meantime, I'm sorry you're being made to feel this way.

KBruin Wed 22-Jan-14 16:29:57

wow - thanks all - so much - for your feedback. I really needed this! unfortunately she is an equity partner within our business so she really is the top of the tree. I think part of it may be due to the fact that she has never had children and maybe that is a decision she regrets? she just seems so incredibly bitter and unpleasant - HomeHelpMeGawd - good point re the constructive dismissal. Ill certainly be looking into ensureing that I am fully protected and will document everything that happens without fail. thanks all for making me feel so welcome as a newbie to the community!! xx

KBruin Wed 22-Jan-14 16:32:00

cupoftchai re absence due to sickness I am UK based and where i work (and in general from my experience) nothing below 15-20 days within a year is classed as problematic. we certainly dont hound people regarding it here until they have 2 days off every month for three consecutive months x

HomeHelpMeGawd Wed 22-Jan-14 16:34:09

Don't waste time and energy thinking about her psychological motivations: you may be right, you may be wrong, but it doesn't affect what you should do. Spend that energy on protecting yourself instead.

newgirl Wed 22-Jan-14 16:38:09

agree with homehelp - it does sound in your op as if you are thinking 'childless cow she doesn't understand'.

agree keep a record of everything - your appts, time out of office, any comments etc

If you can arrange appts for start of day so you have the moral highground.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Wed 22-Jan-14 16:51:59

Op I agree with others that you gave rights and should use them but it does all sound quite personal. You dont like her, nor she you by the sound if it.

This does not need to be a problem as you only work together.

KBruin Wed 22-Jan-14 17:06:20

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime - thanks for this. we have worked together for years and although as a more senior person and the only female partner within our business she has always been a little more aggressive / dominant - thats just her role. the pregnancy has brought out this unpleasant side in her, hence the surprise, upset and slight speculation. i didnt dislike her but she seems to be doing her best to cause upset at a highly stressful time for me so yes, i guess you are right when you say she doesnt like me! apologies if it came across in any other way

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Wed 22-Jan-14 17:33:08

If I were to speculate about what's going on in her head, and of course its just speculation grin i would say she is more interested in you delivering work than your pregnancy. And that's not a terrible thing! Just her preferences.

Mind you there is nothing wrong in you not particularly liking her either grin

threeisthebest Wed 22-Jan-14 19:54:15

I know you said she is in her 40s and chose not to have children.

But, a friend of mine tried for years and years to get pregnant with no success. She distanced herself at times from anyone who was pregnant or who had just had children as she found it so hard. She used to tell everyone that she didn't want children as she didn't want everyone to know.

I'm not saying that this could be your boss, and its still no excuse for how she is treating you. But I suspect this could be the reason.

Alias78 Wed 22-Jan-14 20:12:02

I could have written your post almost to the letter this time last year. I told her to back off and repeated a few choice quotes back at her during one of her "talks" to me. She then backed off as was scared of me telling HR. I logged the comments with HR anyway but didnt feel mentally strong enough to start a proper grievance.

Has she got a boss above her?

Alias78 Wed 22-Jan-14 20:16:07

Oh just saw she hasn't got a boss above her.

Do document everything. Perhaps you could contact her via email if you have anything to raise with her? My boss made all her nasty comments in person with no witnesses :/

Are you in a union?

tethersend Wed 22-Jan-14 20:18:50

AFAIK, pregnancy related sickness absence cannot trigger disciplinary action. Will check.

Also, you have a legal right to time off for antenatal appointments.

KBruin Wed 22-Jan-14 20:21:05

Thanks for your messages alias78 - no unfortunately I work at a hedge fund and we are not unionised. It sounds like our situations are very similar and I really applaud you for having the guts to say 'enough!!' I need to take a leaf out of your book and firmly and fairly tell her 'no more' !! Wish me luck!

Andcake Wed 22-Jan-14 20:27:43

Congratulations on your pregnancy - sorry she is causing you trouble and all the legal advice above is good.
But what is her story - does she have children, could she be suffering because of infertility now or in the past or that life never brought her a partner to ave children with.
I am speaking from personal experience where I basically had to blank a team member when she announced her pregnancy as it was just after a mmc and we would have tracked almost exactly dates. It's an awful thing to say but god or bid if one of my direct report had got pregnant during those horrible years. Or even if my miracle baby had not arrived and I had ended up Older and childless

NatashaBee Wed 22-Jan-14 20:35:00

Andcake, there's a difference between distancing yourself (I think most women would be smart enough to realize that if a friend distances themselves when you're pregnant, they may have fertility issues) and being outright rude.

mrscog Wed 22-Jan-14 20:38:46

Like alias78 I was going to recommend an assertive (along with documenting EVERYTHING and knowing your rights inside and out) approach. Assertiveness (note not rudeness) often works well with bullies. Something along the lines of

'Bitchface (ideally insert her real name), I don't know if you realise this but since I've told you I'm pregnant, I've found your behavior and attitude towards me unacceptable. I know hospital appointments cause inconvenience, but as I'm sure you'll know pregnant women are entitled to appointments off work, and they often overrun. If the business has an issue with the NHS service then maybe they could pay for me to have private care so I can be back more promptly. I don't really want to spend the next 20 weeks feeling bullied by you, but if you stop now, I'd like to forget it and focus on what we're here for which is work.'

It may or may not work, but if it does then you'll be able to enjoy the rest of the pg in peace. If it doesn't then you've lost nothing, and in fact you'll have more evidence to show that you tried to rectify the situation.

Alias78 Wed 22-Jan-14 20:45:11

Good luck! Well I only told her off after she left me physically shaking and crying after a "meeting". I wish I'd pursued a case against her tbh. I went off on maternity leave early to get away from her.

I won't go into details but she was unable to have children. I tried to be sensitive to this and certainly didn't go on about my pregnancy as it was high risk and tbh I was expecting something to go wrong so couldn't get excited about it. But that did not give this woman the right to treat me like this at what was already a frightening and traumatic time for me.

Alias78 Wed 22-Jan-14 20:47:48

I agree with Natasha. A bit of distance I could have respected. Bullying is inexcusable. It still affected me after the birth of my baby.

She sounds similar to my thankfully ex boss when I was pregnant with my first. She tried to tell me that I had to make the time up for antenatal appointments and emailed everyone in the office telling them not to ask how I was after I'd vomited in the toilet for the millionth time. I was also warned for sending personal emails at work, which I wasn't doing and she had no proof and I firmly believe she was gong to try and sack me.
I printed off all the maternity rights info from the government website and gave it to her so she knew exactly what my rights were. She left me alone after that. Can you get some legal advice if there is no ie higher up a work you can talk to? And keep a diary of everything she does/says as evidence in case you do need to take it further.

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