Question to Ask the Workplace Doctor about disclosure of personal information: I went to my boss to let him know and learn how that will affect my job. My boss and I had agreed to keep it between us and for it to be my responsibility to tell my coworkers or for them to notice the belly as it starts to show.
I just recently found out I’m pregnant. I went to my boss to let him know and learn how that will affect my job. My boss and I had agreed to keep it between us and for it to be my responsibility to tell my coworkers or for them to notice the belly as it starts to show. A week later I hear from an ex-coworker asking about my pregnancy and if it was true. As she tells me she was told from my present supervisor at work. As my question is what can I do about my boss who disrespected my choice of not telling anyone and what I can do about my supervisor that is talking about my personal life, after I had already asked her with respect not to ever talk about me to ex-coworkers or about my personal life?
Signed, Talk About Me
Dear Talk About Me:
What can you do about talk about you by your boss and coworkers? You can learn not to talk about your own personal life with them. I think you are learning this. Also you can frankly say how disappointed you are when you know for sure a confidence has been broken. In this case, I don’t think you can blame your boss for telling others you are pregnant because you have no proof that he/she was the one who disclosed that information.
Not finally, my advice is not to obsess about this incident being disclosed and to simply focus on doing the most professional job you can from day to day. Worrying about people talking about you will distract you from doing what you are hired to do. In this respect, if you will compare the email sent with that which is posted you will see several corrections I made to improve on it. This is to suggest that no matter what your job requires, working on your composition will improve your value as an employee.
I said “not finally” in the above paragraph because I’m forwarding to you advice for an individual who has sent me lessons she has learned that might help others in their careers. This woman has been employed for about three years since graduating from college. The reason I’m sharing this with you is that she talks about talk at work, about her communication, both personal and business. I trust that the lessons she sends will address your current and future concerns about what you share with others at work and what you overhear they say about you.
So read on and learn from others, which is the purpose of our site.”I have also learned to seek out my own fulfillment in my work. Yes, I work for Habitat for Humanity and it is a very well-known organization that changes lives and I am very proud to be a part of this. That said, I rarely work with the families we serve or get a chance to see the fruits of my labor first hand. I work in our ReStore and the majority of my day is spent behind a computer working to bring in donations to the store or scheduling volunteers to complete service hours that they are required to do. It is up to me to expose myself to these aspects, so I make sure I talk to other co-workers about their interactions with families and I go out to build at least twice a year.
On St. Patrick’s Day my parents and I painted the front porch for one of the houses we are building and got to chat with the future homeowner! “Another lesson is to be yourself through your work! I can honestly say that my colleagues at work really do have a good idea of who I am. I let my personalities show. My sense of humor has definitely gotten me through some tough days. It also allows the people I work with to know that I am a real person, encouraging them to confide in, trust and respect me. People also know when I am stressed out.
Now, it’s not as if I walk through the building throwing our fax machine at a wall… but I will say, I am not afraid to shed a tear if the demands of my job have me at my whit’s end. Again, I do this all professionally, but know that I can be myself at work which not only improves my relationships at the office, but alleviates the amount of venting I do about work when I am not at work. “Just for fun…. one lesson I have still yet to learn: How not to procrastinate.
Sorry that this waited until the last minute. ” Now a second email sent more lessons: “One lesson I have learned is how to improve other people’s communication skills. My boss is, by far and away, the most difficult person I have ever worked with. He and everyone else at the affiliate know this. My biggest hurdle at Habitat has not only been working with him, but teaching him how to work with others. What are considered to be basic social norms for you and I are simply not instinctive to him. His arrogance and strange sense of humor are not what you would consider socially acceptable.”Our department is the only one of its kind here at Habitat, as we are constantly being pulled between the administrative side and hands-on demands of our job. For example, at any moment my boss could be loading up donations into one of our trucks and someone back at the office is hounding him (through me) to sign off on the time cards for our department. I am constantly explaining to him that he needs to respect other people’s time.
I have learned to make analogies and draw from examples in order to show him the errors of his ways. I have gained a great deal of patience and have seen him improve in many different areas. I have learned to be very direct with him without being disrespectful. Luckily his ego has not gotten in the way of his personal growth. His ability to multitask, meet deadlines and see things from others’ point of view has greatly improved.”
I welcome your response to these thoughts and wish you well as your baby-to-be grows. Not all days will be a walk in the park, but do remember to take time to walk, at breaks and noon, and after work. That is good medicine for body and mind. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, my signature sentence speaks to the kind of spirit and commitment we each need to make our job and others the best possible.
****** An additional response by Tina Rowe: I’m sorry for this upsetting situation, since it should be a time when you can feel positive about yourself and your future, not stressful. Let me share a couple of thoughts about how to proceed at this point. My first thought is about your relationship with the boss/manager and supervisor, the second provides a link to a site that has information about medical privacy, by state.
1. I don’t know your personal situation, but I can think of many reasons for wanting to wait to disclose a pregnancy until the pregnant woman is prepared to tell people and feels comfortable talking about it. I can understand your irritation and feelings of betrayal about having the information disclosed.
Do keep in mind that being pregnant will bring comments and questions, like no other medical condition and most people mean no harm by it. In fact, most people assume the pregnant woman WANTS to discuss it. You will be better off being tolerant of most of the talk, as long as it is well-meant. Regarding your boss/manager and your supervisor, it seems it is the supervisor who was in error if she talked about you, because your manager was correct to disclose information related to work to your immediate supervisor. It also sounds as though you have had this problem in the past with her.
Consider talking or writing to your manager to let him know what happened. He may be as upset as you are that the supervisor disclosed the information to a former employee. Don’t become angry, just express concern, disappointment and worry about what other private matters might be talked about by the supervisor. Let your manager know that you have had your trust in the supervisor severely shaken as a result of this situation, but that you will continue to be a good employee.If your business is large enough to have an HR section you should be talking to them as well, since they are the ones who will be handling the administrative aspects of a maternity leave or other matters. They too would want to know about this. (It may be that you are not in that type of business, but I wanted to mention that in case you are.)
Try not to let this become a major factor in your work, since you may need to have the support of your supervisor for help with work or other things that require her approval during your pregnancy. You’re right to let your manager know about it, but it won’t be to your advantage to show anger to the supervisor.
2. You may also be concerned about potential legal issues related to medical privacy disclosures. The link below provides information about such matters. It also has a list of links to state government sites that give state laws about revealing medical information without an employee’s permission. However, I doubt that any law was broken, based on the specific circumstances of your situation. http://ihcrp.georgetown.edu/privacy/records.html
The important issue is that you had asked for the information to be kept confidential, at least temporarily, and the promise wasn’t kept. On the other hand, if you want to continue to work there, you will probably have to just put this in the mental file of lessons learned about your supervisor. Continue to do good work and put your focus on keeping a job while also being a great new mom. Best wishes to you.
Wm. Gorden & Tina Rowe