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Need to know my rights if I quit- NYC

by Jade
(NY, NY)

Hello, I am a receptionist for an accounting firm in NYC. I am currently pregnant and feel I am starting to be harassed by the office manager.

Since I have been pregnant things have gotten progressively worse. I have not had the energy to keep up the way I normally would be able to. I will admit that I have been late to work on more than one occasion either because of horrible morning sickness in the beginning to now being 35 weeks along and not being able to walk as fast in the subway on the way to work. I am usually 5 to 10 minutes late.

When I was hired I was told that I get 2 15 min. breaks and an hour for lunch. When I am late I do not take my breaks to make up the time. The office manager does not like this and thinks that I should shave the make up time off of my lunch hour. I believe I should be able to make up the time as I see fit, especially right now. The other problem is, is that I was called into her office a couple of weeks ago to be told that I cannot leave the desk without coverage even if it is just for about 10 seconds to get a drink of water in a kitchen that is 20 feet away from the phone that I can clearly hear ringing and can come back to answer it quickly. I feel this is very humiliating and degrading that I cannot get a drink of water, or a spoon to eat something at my desk on my own.

Then today at work the person who was supposed to cover me for lunch got called into a meeting (that I was unaware of) by the office manager right around my lunch time. I had to page her twice to get any response as to where she was. The office manager answered(she did not)and said she would be right out. Apparently right out meant 1/2 hour later. By then it was 45 minutes after I normally take my lunch. I was very hungry and upset and left without a word to anyone. I was too upset to eat anything by that point and called from outside and said that I didn't feel well and went home.

I really am
not sure what to do here. If I quit I may not get either disability from maternity leave or unemployment, but I do know that I am at my boiling point. What compensation would I be able to get if any?

Hi Jade,

First, I need to tell you I didn't see anything that suggest a feeling of confidence for you and u unemployment benefits if you quit due to being at your boiling point.

Have you been written up for being late?

Is it written somewhere you must go to lunch at the same time everyday? I don't know what NY's labor laws say about required break periods and lunch periods, but you should check that out before you make a rash decision to quit your job because the employer may have a valid point as to when you should be making up your time as I'm leaning toward the employer on this one given the fact you mentioned nothing about substantiating medical documentation from your physician to support intermittent family medical leave, or any kind of leave during your pregnancy.

You realize they could make a case for a discharge with good cause over the lateness issue alone?

Jade, you're 35 weeks .. you're just about ready to deliver. My opinion, is that you should suck it up for the duration and trust me .. you're not the first pregnant woman to be tired, nor the first to think she should be able to tell the employer when she's willing to make up time.

Have your baby, enjoy the time you'll be allowed with your infant, go back to work, be on time again, and then .. if the harassment doesn't change .. consider taking a look at yourself to see if somehow, you might have something to do with your office manager's attitude toward you.

There is this standard that most states use to determine .. they ask the question .. "would a REASONABLE person, do the same thing under the circumstances YOU were experiencing?

Being pregnant isn't an excuse to not follow employer rules. Have medical issues with a pregnancy, however, is initially your responsibility and it's you that must make the employer aware of your needs.. in case they need to look for a viable way to accommodate medical restriction on your work activities from your doctor for your pregnancy.


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