She could get the interviews, a Rotterdam woman said, but had suspicions as to why she couldn’t land the job.
On Tuesday evening, an employee at Family Restaurant in Rotterdam contacted her on Facebook Messenger to confirm a 9:15 a.m. interview. Moments later, the interview was canceled.
“Nobody has blatantly told me it was because I was pregnant,” Stefanie Zijlema said of her previous attempts to secure employment.
“They still brought me in for interviews and they told me they couldn’t discriminate against it,” she said. “There might have been someone better, who knows.”
But she wondered.
In response to the dinner message, Zijlema said she would be there at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, then added:
“I just wanted to let you know I am pregnant. Incase you haven’t taken a look at my profile and seen, I have been struggling to find someone to hire me pregnant not many places want to but I will put in the work and be there when needed!”
“Sorry,” came the response from the dinner account.
“Is that okay?” Zijlema said.
“No .thank you!” was the response.
Felix Jimenez, Zijlema’s boyfriend, posted a screenshot of the conversation on Facebook. Public backlash against the soon followed.
Zijlema is visibly pregnant. She said she has let potential employers know ahead of time because “I just like to let people know; it’s common courtesy,” so employers would be aware she may need scheduling flexibility to attend appointments with doctors.
The Ledger contacted the dinner Wednesday about 7 p.m. to ask about the incident. An employee said she would pass on the message to someone who could speak to the paper. Later at the restaurant, an employee told a Ledger reporter to come back in the morning.
No one from the , or owner James Bronkhorst, had responded by 9:30 p.m.
After Zijlema posted the conversation online, dinner responded on its Facebook page with a comment and screenshots of her resume, which included her work history and education.
“We are sorry for misunderstand.we can check all resumes and she didn’t have any restaurant experience.we are looking for experience server,” the comment said.
Zijlema told The Ledger she was taken aback by the business posting her resume.
“It gave away where I used to work, my high school ... It gave away where I used to live,” Zijlema said.
dinner’s Facebook page was deleted some time later Wednesday.
Under the statute, it is unlawful “to discharge or to fail or refuse to hire any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.”
The law applies to businesses with 15 or more employees, and does not exclude discrimination based on “bona fide” job requirements.
Federal law also prohibits hiring discrimination based on pregnancy.
Bill Ouellette, a Lake Wales lawyer, said Zijlema might have a case but she would have to weigh the potential outcomes against the effort. Ouellette was contacted on Facebook by a third party responding to the post, asking if he could help. Zijlema briefly spoke to him Wednesday.
“I think there might be enough there (to win a case) but you’d have to look at the cost of litigation and the remedies available there. She’s not going to want to work for someone she had to sue to get the job,” he said.
dinner’s response about her qualifications on its Facebook page may cloud the issue as to whether Zijlema’s pregnancy was the reason to cancel the interview.
“They weren’t overt enough to say that,” Ouellette said. Still, “I think a jury would side with her, but I don’t know what kind of remedy she’d have.”
Zijlema said she isn’t sure what she is going to do, but she has no interest in working for the restaurant.
She might have other options soon, as she was contacted by a Winter Haven business manager with a job prospect.