What To Do If You’re Laid Off While Pregnant


Two months before I was due to give birth in 2018, I was laid off from my company. It is tough to get laid off to begin with, but add the stress of having to care for a new baby while jobless, and that makes a layoff that much worse.

What to do if you're laid off while pregnantCOVID is (incredibly) still going on and work from home situations are still stressful, and people might be nervous about their work situation and possible layoffs. If you’re pregnant, it adds a whole other layer of stress. I was laid off while pregnant before COVID was a thing, so in case you or anyone you know are pregnant and get laid off during this unprecedented time, be sure to do the following:

1. Before you sign and return any paperwork, consult a lawyer ASAP.

What I learned from my lawyer is that the company needs to prove the pregnancy had nothing to do with the layoff. Don’t be afraid to get multiple opinions. I consulted two lawyers. One was skeptical I had a case. But the other was very detailed about how I not only had a case but it was a strong one.

2. Don’t Google whether this is legal or not; consult with a lawyer.

When I Googled to see if this was legal, there were surprisingly lots of articles about how it IS legal. (Isn’t that sad?) But the difference is, as stated above, the onus is on the company to prove that they did NOT lay you off because you are pregnant. This is usually very hard to prove, even if others who were not pregnant were laid off along with you (as was the case with me). It is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer and get their advice.

The day after this photo was taken, I was laid off.

3. Understand you’ll likely be stressed.

Once I decided to hire a lawyer and threaten legal action, I knew (because I knew how my former company was) that this would be a long, drawn-out process. It was worrisome and agonizing to think that maybe my former company would take their chances and we’d go to trial. I was also worried about the impending birth of my child. I wondered if I would feel worthless as I ventured into motherhood without a career. It goes without saying, but try not to stress and focus on the current positives in your life. Focus on the positives that will happen once you give birth. And make time for self-care, which should help!

4. Figure out what you need to do.

If your family was on health insurance through your former employer, find out what your partner’s insurance is and call your doctor, hospital, and potential pediatrician and make sure they take that insurance. You can also figure out if it’s worth it to pay for COBRA for your old plan. Or choose a plan from the marketplace and make sure it’s taken by your doctor, hospital, anesthesiologist if you plan on taking an epidural, pediatrician, etc. If you had a 401(k), talk to a financial advisor to start the process to move it to a Roth IRA. Or combine it with your husband’s 401(k) so the money isn’t in limbo.

5. Grieve the loss of your job.

People get laid off and fired from their jobs all the time. The only difference here is you are preparing to give birth and bring a new human into the world. That has its own kind of uncertainty. I was so uncertain about so many things. How would I be as a mother? How would my career be affected? What would happen to our family? I grieved the loss of my job up until I gave birth. But once I gave birth, I realized we would all be okay. Find a good support system to help you grieve. Realize that you and your family will be okay with a little time.

Many of these bullets should also help if you have kids and you’ve been laid off, or if there have been issues between you and your boss about working with kids at home – this situation happened earlier this year when COVID was new, and probably is still happening, unfortunately. Consult with a lawyer, know your options and workplace rights, and stay strong! You’ll get through this, mama.