Workplace Q & A: Part 8

Q: Do I have to tell my manager that I’m pregnant?

“Do I have to inform my manager that I am pregnant? I work in a busy division where managers like to plan the work schedule months in advance.”

A: No.

You don’t have to tell your manager before you’re ready to tell the whole world.

When you do tell him, it will be in your interest to offer suggestions for coverage and to advise him of your plans for maternity leave and your expectations upon returning to work. If you intend to ask for a flex schedule or part-time work, you need to figure out the details now rather than later. If your company is inflexible and makes demands that will be incompatible with your new responsibilities as a mother, you need to plan now your strategy for finding another job.

This may be one of those situations where giving your manager a heads up will signal your interest and dedication to the company, even though you’re not obligated to give him information about your private life.

Q: My service dog calms me down when I get panic attacks. Can I bring the dog to work?

“I have a service dog because I get frequent panic attacks. When I have chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and a feeling like I’m not in my own body, my service dog is able to calm me down. I would like to bring the dog to work. My manager says the company has a ‘no pets allowed’ policy, and that the only exception is a seeing-eye dog. Can I bring the dog to work?”

A: Yes.

The company cannot bar service dogs from accompanying employees to work. However, your employer is allowed to establish reasonable rules, for example, that you must keep the dog with you and that the dog remain relatively quiet.

Permitting a service dog to accompany an employee would be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). It’s difficult to see how the dog could present an undo hardship to your company. Claiming that other employees or customers don’t like dogs would not be enough to bar your dog from the workplace.

The dog should have some type identification showing it is a service dog, but you do not have to present any special certification materials to the employer. You should spend a little time educating your co-workers about what they can and cannot do in relation to the dog, since the natural inclination of most people is to pet the dog or give the dog a treat.


Q: Do I have to report an employee who accessed child pornography on his computer?

“One of my direct employees accessed child porn on his computer. My guess is that he stumbled upon it. But the fact is that I don’t really know how it happened. He is an extremely good worker. I would like to forget the whole thing. Do I have to report him?”

A: Yes.

You should report this situation to corporate security and let them do an investigation. Viewing child pornography is very different from viewing adult porn and can lead to criminal charges. As you indicated, you don’t really know what is going on. And you certainly don’t want to be accused of covering up someone else’s accessing and viewing child pornography.

The fact that this employee is a good worker is unlikely to help him keep his job if, in fact, he has been downloading and viewing child porn on the company computer. It is more likely that he will be terminated and his case reported to law enforcement authorities.

Copyright © 2013–2014 Johanna Harris

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post contains numerous questions describing common recurring problems in the workplace. The circumstances described in these questions, including the names of characters and business firms, are fictitious.

About the Author: Johanna Harris has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book, USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace (i Book, Kindle, Amazon Paperback), is intended to help you learn enough about labor law and personnel practices so that you don’t get derailed from the career track you should be on.


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