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Pregnant Woman Can't Be Denied Job Because of Condition

February 04, 2001

Q: My wife recently went on an interview for a paralegal position.

The interview was going very well until my wife mentioned that she was two months pregnant. The interviewer abruptly excused herself, came back a few minutes later and terminated the interview, saying that they would keep her resume on file.

My wife was afraid that her condition may cause people not to consider her for a job, and this incident only reinforces that notion.

Is there a law that prevents discrimination against pregnant women who have applied for a job?

--K.W., Pasadena

A: Yes. Both state and federal laws prohibit discrimination in hiring on the basis of the applicant's pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition.

To make a valid pregnancy discrimination claim, your wife would have to establish that she was qualified for the position but was denied the job because she was pregnant.

If she wishes to pursue the matter, she should file a complaint with either the state or federal anti-discrimination agency. The federal agency is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The state agency is the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

She does not need an attorney to file such a complaint.

--Diane J. Crumpacker

Management law attorney

Fried, Bird & Crumpacker

Effective Listening Is An Overlooked Skill

Q: My supervisor is a very good manager but a terrible listener.

Sometimes we answer a question and he acts like he understands, but then five minutes later he asks the same question.

He also seems clueless as to what others think of him.

Are there any kinds of seminars or workshops that I can recommend to him to help improve his listening?

--D.K., San Bernardino

A: This is not an uncommon problem for people in management and leadership positions.

Because managers spend so much time communicating, making decisions and juggling other activities, they often neglect to take the time to listen intently to what others are saying.

In fact, we have found this to be one area that many managers/leaders feel they need to work on.

If you are on good terms with your manager, let him know about your observations and concerns.

There are a number of communication skill workshops available for managers, and all of them focus at least partly on effective listening.

--Ron Riggio, director

Kravis Leadership Institute

Claremont McKenna College

Company Should Provide Information on 401(k)

Q: The small company that I work for started a 401(k) program almost two years ago, and I am contributing 3% of my pay.

The problem is that I cannot get my employer to provide information on what is in my account or whether any employer contributions have been made.

In the two years of the 401(k), I have received only two pieces of paper, the last one in August.

My employer is stonewalling, saying that all printouts that he received were delivered to employees.

What information is the company required to provide? If I am unable to obtain this material, what federal agency do I report this to?

--G.E., Culver City

A: Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, participants in a 401(k) plan are entitled to demand a benefit statement once a year.

However, many plans provide benefit statements more frequently. If you are not satisfied with the response from your employer, you should contact the U.S. Department of Labor's Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration office, which is in Pasadena.

--Kirk F. Maldonado

Employee benefits attorney

Riordan & McKinzie

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If you have a question about an on-the-job situation, please mail it to Shop Talk, Los Angeles Times, P.O. Box 2008, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; dictate it to (714) 966-7873, or e-mail it to shoptalk@latimes.com. Include your initials and hometown. The Shop Talk column is designed to answer questions of general interest. It should not be construed as legal advice. Recent Shop Talk columns are available at http://www.latimes.com/shoptalk.

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