Ask Amy: I turned down the job because of the interviewer’s question (and the no-pants thing)

Dear Amy: I’m a recently married woman in my mid-20s, looking for a new job.

Recently, during an interview with a private school, I was asked about my pregnancy plans. The question was if I had a “plan for balancing children with work.”

I coldly said, “My husband and I have spoken about it, and we’re not concerned.”

I got offered the job but didn’t take it because of that question, as well as a “no pants” policy for women.

When I told the company that I was declining the job, I told them my reasons, and I included a link to the EEOC about pregnancy discrimination, which included a recommendation to not ask that question in interviews. They responded with a general reply wishing me well in the future.

Was there a better way to handle it?

K

Dear K: “A no pants” policy? Wouldn’t that upset the children? (I thought that only television anchors could get away with going “no-pants” at work.)

Kidding aside, your choice to turn down this position was obviously a good one. Your follow-up was appropriate.

Here’s the information from the EEOC that I assume you linked to: “Federal law does not prohibit employers from asking you whether you are or intend to become pregnant. However, because such questions may indicate a possible intent to discriminate based on pregnancy, we recommend that employers avoid these types of questions.”

In the future, when you’re asked about your family planning in a job interview, you might respond: “I’m curious: Why do you ask?”

The interviewer would likely offer a benign-sounding explanation. If after that you’re at all still interested in employment at that particular workplace, you could then respond and deflect by saying, “I have an outstanding work ethic.”

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Given that this baby-balancing query was made at an actual school, you might have responded: “Given that I’ll be working with children, the entire job is to balance children with work. I look forward to it.”

Dear Amy: It might be my profession that makes me a little salty, but I’m hoping that you can reframe or share some thoughts on this irritation.

When the pandemic started, everyone was sent to work from home. All most people could do was complain about how difficult this was.

Being a nurse and manager of a medical unit, I obviously did not get to work from home. Nor did I have any “boring” days like so many people complained about.

Now, three years later, many people have settled into working from home and love it. They’re complaining about having to go into an office a few times a month.

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Speaking on behalf of most of us in health care (and any service industry), I really wish people could appreciate their situation.

Making every work setting or situation into a complaint is obnoxious for those of us who do not have these luxurious options.

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Your take?

Salty Nurse

Dear Salty: I want to thank you for your service, and also for the invitation to ponder and potentially reframe a category of human inquiry that we should be grateful exists at all: post-pandemic problems.

So let me start by removing from its case the world’s smallest violin and playing a plaintive tune for anyone who has the temerity to complain to a healthcare or service worker about the burdens of being called back into the office a few times a month.

Now for the reframing: We’re back! We’re back to overlooking our obvious lucky breaks (we’re alive, being one), and are already starting to take for granted the simple privilege of being able to visit with, touch, hug and kiss one another.

We’ve resumed our habit of laundering our petty complaints, even if the rest of the world is on fire.

Your burden is also your blessing: While others are whining about the long line at Starbucks, you are already fully awake and inhabiting your salty humanity.

You have my permission to remind others to put their problems into perspective.

Dear Amy: I related to the question from “Stop Haunting My Dreams.” Like this person, I have had recurring dreams. Mine are related to college (I left right before receiving my degree).

I agree with you that this is the subconscious trying to close the loop on unfinished business.

In My Dreams

Dear In My Dreams: My recurring college dreams involve arriving at the wrong classroom to take my final. I’m still trying to work that one out.

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You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.

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