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Can PhD program rescind offer if I tell them I am pregnant?


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Just accepted into a PhD program for Fall 2019. Also just found out I am pregnant (surprise!) and likely due around November 15th. It's extremely early in the pregnancy. I haven't even been to the doctor yet. Should I tell the program before I accept to see how accommodating they will be able to be? Ideally, I'd love to postpone the first semester or just take a 1 credit course to stay on the books, but if that is not at all possible and they need me to be full-time and I'm medically not able to be, I might have to decline, which would absolutely suck. Anyone else delivered a baby in their 1st semester of a new PhD program? Thoughts on when/whether/how to tell the program? 

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@Calmly_WaitingIn short, it’s illegal and a federal violation (I’m an attorney). Further, if you had to withdrawal by your own accord for the pregnancy, federal law requires that you must reinstated following your leave without penalty. Both title IX and the ADA have specific legal instruction and accommodation for your situation. That said, what happens on the retail level can be quite different and stark.....but you have very specific legal protections.

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Find out what the Grad School's parental leave/other leave policies are. I don't know what the school is, but it may be in the Grad School Bulletin or Student Handbook. It should be somewhere on their website. If you can't find anything, email someone in the Dean's office to ask for clarification. In my experience, the admin are likely to be more supportive or neutral about students taking leave, whereas faculty/programs may be a little more stingy. (Of course, some programs are entirely supportive.) Be aware that whatever is listed in the school Bulletin/Handbook is the official policy regardless of what anyone else tells you.  

(I work in a graduate Dean's office.)

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I'm sure Boolakanaka is correct, but be careful: just because it's illegal doesn't mean they won't do it. People get fired for being pregnant all the time (happened to my mom -- while she was working at a law firm), even though that's illegal as well. It's easy for an organization to get around the law, because the employee/student has the burden of proof in these cases. The key to avoiding this is documentation. Do not call the school; email them so you have the communication in writing.

I don't want to scare you. Your program will most likely be accommodating. Just make sure you take that precaution, just in case.

Edited by feralgrad
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