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Infertility: rights in the workplace

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#1 LMR

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 08:35 PM


I work for a very large Candian organization. I have been going through ongoing infertility treatment this past year and have had numerous absences due to several procedures related to infertility (embryo retrieval, transfer, endo biopsies) and a miscarriage that ended in a d&c. I have not told my employer about the infertility, but have provided notes for the related absences. My employer is aware of the miscarriage, though.

What are my rights as an employee? Is infertility a diagnosed medical illness that would be recognized as a legit reason for absences?

Thank you for your help!
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#2 Kimmy

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Posted 13 September 2012 - 09:37 PM

I'm not 100% sure. I know at my work they know everything about why I have missed and hey do not have a problem. I think the policies on missing work will probably differ from company to company. I do know that when I put in for a paid absence through our insurance company at work I was denied because they told me that a lot of this stuff falls under "elective" if I have pregnancy complications I'm covered but because it was my "choice" to have say an embryo transfer and because of that was put on bed rest for my 2WW I'm not. It's probably just best to talk to someone in your HR department and figure out what your company will and won't cover you for or if they think it is a legit reason for absences.
TTC since 2007
>Me-dont ovulate all the time and I have poor egg quality
>DH-low sperm count

>Jan 23 2009 miscarrage natural conception no fertility treatments

>3 Back to back IUI's June to August of 2009. All BFN :(

>1st IVF/ICSI November 2009
>10 eggs collected 6 fertilized 2 put back none to freeze
>AF one week later BFN

>2nd IVF/ICSI Feburary 2011
>11 eggs collected 8 fertalized 2 put back none to freeze
>Got AF so I went for a blood test. Levels came back at 41 so they thought I was having a miscarrage. Went back 2 days later and levels were at 46 so they thought I wasnt micarrying proper and might need a D&C. Went back 6 days later levels shot up to 184 so they thought I passed 1 embryo but was pregnant with the other. Went back 2 days later levels down to 169 got AF 2 days later.
>This is when they said I have poor egg quality.

> Decided to go a head with donor embryo cycle at PNWF in Seattle.
>started Lupron feb 26 2012 and started out donor embryo cycle
>March 6 and 20 lining looks great all set for a march 28 transfer
>show up with full badder March 28 to find out the embryos we chose didn't make the thaw. Picked new ones and they looked great! Transferred 2 beautiful blasts that afternoon.
>First beta April 7 number was 718!! BFP!
>Second beta April 9 number was 1286! Looking good
>had a huge bleed so I went for my u/s. have a clot but also a baby with a heart beat! Clot shouldnt cause any problems but might be around for the first trimester.
>Follow up u/s May 9th
>Follow up u/s went great HB of 157! Clot getting smaller.
>another u/s booked for May 23
>u/s went great again! HB of 163! Baby moved a lot for us very exciting! Dr could no longer find clot. Good news!
>EDD December 14 2012!
>Baby couldn't wait and decided to come early.
>Water broke and my baby boy Logan James was born on November 13th!
>He was 6lbs 12oz! Not bad for almost 5 weeks early!
>Spent 5 days in the NICU and a total of a week in hospital

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

#3 #[email protected]

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 12:19 AM

While universal health care does not cover inertility treatments, there is coverage in almost all developed countires. Insurance companies in 12 American States have been mandated to cover fertility treatments. Furthermore, the WHO recognizes fertility as an ailment and the ability to reproduce as a basic human right. My point being, just because we are for some reason a little behind in Canada on this issue regarding coverage, this hardly makes fertility treatments elective or trivial. It is not cosmetic surgery! I hope everything works out for you and you get the respect you deserve. You may want to contact a local IF society to get some resources in case you need it. The hard part is just deciding if you want to disclose to your employer or not. Best to you.
Me - 44, DH - 45
3 CONSECUTIVE IVF CYCLES AT 43 YEARS OLD = 16 eggs > 13 embryos > 10 transferred > 1 BABY!!!!

Years of anovulation (but this has saved me some eggs for my 40's!) and decreased count/motility.
4 years of trying naturally and tests - then surprise pregnancy in 2003, DD born 11/2003
6 cycles of clomid/iui - BFN, 2 cycles of FSH/IUI - x2 chemical pregnancy, 1 cycle of FSH/IUI - bfp! DS born 08/2006

2009 I decide I want another. Crazy I know - DH has had Vx.
2012 DH finally on board. Has TESE (super ouch).
03/12 and 04/12: FSH = 5, AFC = 4
IVF#1 - June 2012 - long lupron, 300 Bravelle, 150 Menopur, ICSI - 10 follicles, 3 eggs (WTF??), 2 fertilized, transferred 2 Day 3 4-cells - bfn.
IVF#2 - Aug/Sept 2012 - flare, 450 Bravelle, ICSI, 5 eggs, 4 fertilized, transferred 4 (2 8-cell, 2 10-cell) - chemical

Oct/Nov 2012 - flare, lupron BID, 450 Bravelle, ICSI
Sept 15 - start BCP
Oct 11 - endo biopsy
Oct 14 - last BCP
Oct 17 - baseline: E2=286, start lupron microdose twice daily
Oct 19 - start 450 Bravelle
Oct 24 - U/S: 7 10mm follicles, bw: E2=964
Oct 26 - U/S, bw 9 follicles (all 10 -16mm), bw: E2=1867, lining: 9mm
Oct 28, u/s, bw 9 follicles (1 @10mm, 7 @16-17mm, 1 @23.5mm), bw: 3600+, lining: 10mm

Oct 29, u/s, bw 9 follicles (1 @12mm, 8 @18-21mm), bw: 5500+, lining: 10mm - trigger AND 450 Bravelle!
Oct 31 - ER 8 eggs!
Nov 1 - 7 fertilised!
Nov 2 - three grade 2 (all 4-cell), two grade 3 (2-cell and 5-cell) and two grade 4 (all 5-cell)
Nov 3 -two grade 2 (all 8-cell), four grade 3 (8-cell and 10-cell) and one grade 4 (6-cell)

Nov 4 - four good morulas, one border-line quality morula, two 10-cell embies
Nov 5 - ET of 2 blasts (2BB, 3BA), one cavitating morula and one other crap morula - NO FROSTIES!

Nov 10 - Day 10 - HPT ---- BFP!
Nov 14 - beta = 78

Nov 16 - beta = 179
Dec 7 - first u/s! 7w2d: CRL=10mm, HR=139
Dec 11 - first appt w/ high risk OB & another in office u/s (all good)
Dec 18 - u/s 8w6d: CRL=21mm, HR=172
Dec 27 - genetic testing and consult
Jan 11 - nuchal testing and IPS with soft markers (FTS) (for fun as will have already done NIPS) - NT=1.19mm = PERFECT
Jan 21 - 13w5d on u/s - we are having a boy!!!!!
July 24 - due! induced on July 6th - healthy, 7 lbs 2 oz at 37w3d - can't believe this happened!!

#4 LMR

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:36 AM

Thanks for the input everyone....... I really do need to know from a legal persepctive if I can use sick days. My clinic - associated with a hospital - has readily provided notes saying that I couldn't go into work. I don't know.......
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#5 KiwiGal

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 05:48 AM

My understanding is that if you are using consecutive sick days in a row - you are required to provide a doctor's note to explain your absence. I think that is *fairly* standard across the board with most companies. Most, not all I'm sure. If you are using vacation days - you are free to do whatever you want and take as many as you want (up to your maximum allowance) as long as you have coverage at work.

I decided not to disclose to my employer what I was doing - even though my boss is female and has two children herself. I preferred to keep it quiet and not have to share information. I simply told them I was having a medical procedure, that I needed "x" amount of days off and that I would be using vacation time. They never asked any questions and, by law, they aren't allowed to. Someone else posted on this board that IVF, IUI, etc are all considered "elective procedures". I'm not sure if this is right or not, simply because I haven't researched it. For me, I was too afraid of my employer saying No to having time off for IVF and then having to lie about why I was taking time off.
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<p>2005/06 - DH diagnosed with CF (mild form) & MFIMay 31, 2012 - DH appointment with urologistJune 5, 2012 - Consent signing for IVF w/ICSIJune 20, 2012 - DH TESE/PESA appointmentJuly 5, 2012 - F/U B/W to check thyroid levelAugust 15, 2012 - Appointment with nurse to learn injectionsAugust 31, 2012 - Called in Day 1!September 1, 2012 - Day 2 b/w; starting 125 IU Puregon tonight!September 5, 2012 - Day 5 b/w and u/s - 4 lead follicles with 27 small on the right and 17 small on the left!September 7, 2012 - Day 7 b/w and u/s - 19 follicles measuring on the chart w/ several small trying to catch up!September 9, 2012 - Day 9 b/w and u/s - Almost there! Over 20 follicles measuring on the chart, but not over 16mm yet...September 10, 2012 - Day 10 b/w and u/s - 6 follicles over 17mm; 20-ish measuring close behind. At risk for OHSS. :(TRIGGER tonight @ 10pm!!! Stopped injections & started Dostinex (for OHSS)September 12, 2012 - 10am - ER! 25 eggs retrievedSeptember 13, 2012 - Fertilization report: 16 out of 25 eggs fertilized! Scheduled a Day 5 transfer. <img src=""title=":)" alt="smile.png">September 17, 2012 - Transferred 1 very good quality (B3-BB) embryo!September 25, 2012 - 8dp5dt - BFP on FRER!!!!September 28, 2012 - Beta #1 - 314!!!!October 1, 2012 - Beta #2 - 900!!October 5, 2012 - U/S - Shows 1 gestational and yolk sac in the uterus. <img src="" title=":)" alt="smile.png"> We're over the moon!October 26, 2012 - U/S and follow up w/ Dr. Vause - 1 very healthy baby measuring 1 week ahead! HB 176. Graduated from the clinic today!November 1, 2012 - 1st Midwife Appointment!!November 23, 2012 - IPS U/S and B/WDecember 6, 2012 - 2nd Midwife Appointment!January 10, 2013 - Morphology UltrasoundJanuary 16, 2013 - 3rd Midwife AppointmentJune 11, 2013 - Baby Elliott born, 6lbs 6oz, 19.5in. January 2015 - IVF Cycle #2 - BFN <img src="" title=":(" alt="sad.png"> April 17, 2015 - IVF Cycle #3 - called in Day 1April 20, 2015 - started stims (100iu + 1 click of puregon)April 24, 2015 - 1st monitoring appointment.May 1, 2015 - Egg Retrieval at 8:30am; DH TESE @ 6:30am - Retrieved 19 eggs; 18 mature; 16 fertilized!May 6, 2015 - Embryo Transfer at 9am - transferred 1 beautiful B4-BB embryo and froze 3 embryos!May 14, 2015 - 8dp5dt HPT @ 8:00pm - BFP!!!! <img src="" title=":)" alt="smile.png">May 19, 2015 - BETA Day! 884.5! Whoa!!May 21, 2015 - Beta #2 - 2105 <img src="" title=":)" alt="smile.png">May 22, 2015 - 1st ultrasound (5w0d) - everything looks good! Baby is measuring 5w3d and is nestled in good!June 8, 2015 - 2nd ultrasound (7w1d) - Baby is measuring 7w2d, heartbeat 146bpm. Everything looks good! Discharged from the clinic!June 18, 2015 - 1st Midwife AppointmentJuly 13 - IPS ultrasound (12w1d) - HB 161bpm, measuring at 12w5d (2.5 inches head to bum) Baby looked great! <img src="" title=":)" alt="smile.png">August 31 - Anatomy Ultrasound (19w1d) Baby looks great! We are team green again <img src="" title=":)" alt="smile.png"></p><p>January 23, 2016 - Due Date!</p><p> 

January 12, 2016 - Baby Lucas born (38w3d) 5lbs10oz, 19.5 in long! We are so in love!

#6 gibasgirl

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:32 AM

Very, very, very good topic.
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#7 nervus optimist

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Posted 14 September 2012 - 06:57 AM

I had an issue with my employer due to absences related to IF and did look at the labour law, and did consult with a labour lawyer. (you may want to consider a consultation as well - all lawyers should give a 30 minute free consult, so it shouldn't cost you anything - you can call the law society and they should be able to connect you with someone in that area if you don't get the answers you're looking for here). in my case I wanted to keep my diagnosis private and my employer was insisting I tell them why I was away for an extended time. the main thing I learned was that the law is clear, but then your employer can (and usually does) have their own policies. so for example - the law is clear that with a doctor's note you can't be fired for absences due to illness, your job is held as yours for a certain period of time (I don't remember the length) but legally they are not required to pay you for that time, and legally your note does not need to indicate the reason for your absences - just that your doctor is treating you and feels you can't go to work. my employer had a policy that stated that they would pay for sick days but your note needed to say why you were off. the lawyer explained to me that it's legal and I have a choice - share the reason I'm sick, and get paid, don't share the reason I'm sick, keep my job, but don't get the sick pay. I realize this isn't quite what you were asking, but I guess the punchline is that the law can be different than your employers policies so long as the policies are within the law. also - the law protects your right to privacy, and your right to employment even if you are sick. hope you find the answers you're looking for. the law society was a helpful resource when I was looking for info.

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I am 38, DH - 39
Genetic - IVF&PGD to prevent Genetic Disorder
IVF #1 - Nov/08 - MC @ 6 weeks, no embryos frozen
IVF #2 - Aug/09 - bfn
IUI #1 - Feb/10 - ectopic
PRIDE - Apr/10
Homestudy - July/10
Given the gift of donor embryos - Jan/12
Donor FET Jun/12 - 9 weeks - no heartbeat... MC
Donor FET Oct/12 - we're PG biggrin.png

===> Beautiful baby boy born 2013 babyboy.gif

Donor FET Oct/16 - chemical

April 2017 - surprise PG

===> Beautiful baby girl born 2017 babygirl.gif

#8 Jazz

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 12:57 AM

Can you make it more can we be off from work as sick if we are going through ivf cycle the 2ww period??

#9 sharlene

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 11:39 AM

Can you make it more can we be off from work as sick if we are going through ivf cycle the 2ww period??

It sounds like it depends on whether you expect to use vacation time off versus sick time off - and whether you only want to maintain your job (and don't want to be paid during the time off) or you want to use sick time and get paid for it - the scenarios are all different - and if you want to use your sick time and get paid for it, that is the most restrictive and an employer can then request a medically necessary note to that effect from a physician - I can't imagien a doctor thinking you needed to be off during a 2 week wait - but I guess that largely depends on your type of employment - very physical labor or some dangerous fumes or something would be vastly different than an office job.

Good luck!

#10 LMR

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 10:07 PM

My question is more about the retrieval/transfer/endobiopsy/hysto days. Not the 2ww. If I get a note for any of these days and I my employer requests the docs to fill out forms (to be reviewed & assessed by the employer insurance and not by employer itself) documenting the reason for the absence (infertility), would that be considered a legally valid reason for the sick days taken for the above (not the 2ww). I still cannot find the answer.

#11 rollergirl


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Posted 13 October 2012 - 10:15 PM

What I was told is that it is an elective procedure.....I decided to disclose to my miss piggy boss lady boss and I told her I would have a doctor's note for the time off....and she told me that is like her going to get a facelift and wanting to have time needless to say I didn't tell her anything after that and just called in sick for the days I needed....and never had to provide a note as I rarely called in sick....and I took vacation days for the ET and afterwards.....and I wish you all the luck....and I think it matters too if you have an understanding boss....I just have a hag for one.....good luck!!

And just state you had to have a medical procedure...and don't relate it to inferility...
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#12 Juliet

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Posted 13 October 2012 - 10:33 PM

This is a great topic. This is what pertained to me in my specific experience.

I had used my 10 sick days allotted in a calendar year in 2011 for consultations, testing, minor procedures and part of the cycling for my first IUI that wasn't during my holidays time. (There is no local option for ART where I live, so I had to commute.) At this point I contacted the HR for my company to discuss my rights and how I was supposed to pursue the treatment. I was told that I did not need to tell my employer anything as long as I had a doctor's note confirming medical procedures and also the fact that I could not pursue treatment locally (the travel time required in addition to what I was having done.) HR would determine if I qualified for a medical leave (using my banked sick days I had accumulated over the past decade at my company - we never can use them after the calendar year is over, unless you have doctor confirmation accepted by HR demonstrating you will need to go past the 10 days allotted for surgery, etc.)

I was told that legally, my employer had no right to know what was wrong with me - but that they needed confirmation from my doctor to validate my absence and use of sick days/medical leave. With that note, they could not question me or refuse to give me sick days. However, I do remember my doctor had to confirm if it was physical or psychological to my insurance company.

HR had very few questions for me. They accepted all the doctor's information. It helped that my doctor is very familiar with my clinic and had referred me there a long time earlier, telling me it was the closest and also my best option for treatment. I had enough days to cover an IVF cycle as well. After this time, I would have taken a hit on my salary and benefits, but would have had my job 'held' for me (while another replacement continued to fill in) if I chose to consider pursuing medical treatment, but they only hold your job for one year from the start time of your leave.

There is lots of great advice in this thread. I would think retrievals, hystos, etc. should certainly qualify as they are a version of surgical procedures and many choose to take pain/anxiety medication for these procedures, rendering it impossible to work, drive, etc. plus the recovery. I guess it depends on the forms and how things need to be justified. I found the forms I was faxed to take to my doctor really gave the power to the doctor and their direction, which was nice.

Let us know what happens! FX everything works out well and in your favour Posted Image It would be nice if at least this major aspect of the journey could be softer on people and with less stress/worry.
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#13 LMR

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 07:45 AM

Thanks everyone. There is def some great advice/comments here. This is my problem - I have had a number of sick days due to ivf procedures. I have always provided a note. About a yr ago I had a miscarriage and had a number of additional sick days. Again, with a note and took short term disability. Well, to my a** of a boss, that meant that I was now unreliable and now on my back. The company has the right to ask me to fill out a form (doc would fill out) allowing the insurance company access to my file to determine if I have an illness or whatever that justifies my being sick. The company would not know the reason/illness, but only that I have something that would justify or unjustify my sick days. The question is would the insurance conclude that this is a valid sickness?

#14 Juliet

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 09:24 AM

My insurance did. What an a-hole of a boss. You sure can meet some jerks throughout this journey and when one is your boss, it really sucks. Your insurance may have little experience dealing with this scenario, in which case it is the health professional filling out the forms or providing additional documentation, to educate them on the pain, drugs, recovery, swollen distended body parts, etc. that qualify you for sick days!

I have been advised very strongly that there are repercussions for bosses who mistreat employees or label them as 'unreliable' due to their validated absences due to medical issues. They have no right to judge and differentiate their treatment of you or your job in this scenario. However I know then that the worry is often, if I try to put my boss in line and carry out my rights, will it bite me further in the end because the boss will be furious to have his/her wrists slapped? Which is all the more additional stress so unfortunate to have and consider.

Is there anyone you can ask for advice within your company? I spoke to the Health and Wellness head of HR - if you work for a large company I'm sure there is some version of this person. If you aren't aware of who they are, is there a website or phone directory you can search through for certain job titles that could be of assistance to you? Or your local doctor? It was my personal doctor locally who was great and tipped me off about things to be careful about when talking to HR and insurance about medical leaves - they believed in me and understood what I was going through, and have been responsible for filling out these forms for hundreds of people over the years in a variety of jobs and scenarios. There was also someone within my company I spoke to (also at HR) that informed me of my rights and things my employer absolutely could not do. My initial boss at the time was a jerk but by the time I actually got into my clinic, I had a new boss who very respectfully followed all guidelines.

It was very difficult for me to look into getting additional time off work. Work has been my life for almost 15 years and in that time I had consistently put myself, my health and needs last because I thought that was the best way to be. When it came to infertility, I finally realized I had no hope whatsoever if I continued to live for my job or other people who could be angry at me. I had to choose to let other people down and put myself in awkward, scary situations in order to proceed with my treatment. I realize in my situation, it played out quite well and that for others, it is not that easy and can be very difficult to go through. But at the end of your life, you have yourself, your family, and your reflections on how you treat others versus how they treat you. I have a strong feeling that in the long run, the difficult days will hopefully be outweighed by the positives we achieve, no matter how long we wait or what may occur before we find a pathway toward what we want the most. Hang in there and put yourself first. You, my dear, deserve it.
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#15 LMR

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 11:58 AM

Juliet, I am in awe of what you were able to achieve re: this issue. I have spoke to our HR contact (each dept has their own hr person) and her advise was ridiculous. I was told to sit down with my boss and ask him what I can do to change his mind about me being perceived as unreliable. Asked if I was willing to fill out these forms. I talked to my mentor who is in another area of the company, but the same seniority as my boss and he told me to 'manipulate' my boss. Send emails late at night to appear that I am working, ask his advice even if I know the answer, etc. I felt like I was being told that to stroke his ego, indirectly. Crazy. So, I don't feel like I work for a company that will be open about this. I am hesitant to tell anybody, including, hr about my situation for fear that it will be held against me. I am almost leaning towards wanting to get a legal opinion so I am sure what the end result would be or should be and I have support.

You are right we deserve to put ourselves first. I completely agree with this and this is why I don't care anymore. That said, I have my DH and DS to worry about and I need my job.

#16 gibasgirl

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 12:18 PM

LMR, your instincts are bang on and I think that if you disclose the IVF/ART information, it will be used against you.

All the best.
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#17 Juliet

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Posted 14 October 2012 - 01:27 PM

LMR, I'm sorry about your boss and the advice given about how to deal with it :( I wish I had more knowledge about how to handle that scenario.

I also felt the need (and desire) to keep my circumstances as private as possible (beyond HR and my doctor.)

The entire situation is such a catch-22 and we are often boxed in, in so many ways. I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better.
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#18 SweetBabyAngel

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 02:20 PM

This may also help clairy our human rights in Canada. http://www.chrc-ccdp.../page1-eng.aspx
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#19 tamts

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 07:01 PM

hello everyone,

i'm new to this site and first of all wish all the sweet girls here a short cycle and a crying baby in your hands soon :)


here is my story :) 

around May this year my husband and  I were about to start IUI, i decided to talk with my Boss, since i didnt want to be stressed out from not telling at work and going ttrough IUI process which is stressful enough.

so on may i talked with my Boss and the HR in our company and explained to them that i need the company flexibility because i'll be starting fertility treatment.

so my Boss, which is married but no kids understood and told me to give them the heads up once i know the date of my IUI, it was all fine until my second IUI that was unsuccessful.


i had a talk with my boss and he asked me to provide him a letter that is generic and indicating that for the next treatment i'll have to be absence from work because of IUI or IVF. my first question is the workplace allowed to ask that? i told my boss that i will provide him that note of course. 


i have noticed that since May i didn't had so many projects coming in (I work as a web developer) and today he came to me asking me for a doctor note saying "it's not that we don't trust you but we need a note from the clinic indicating that this month you'll have to be so and so because of the IUI", and today on top of everything he called me again and told me that my performance is very low and i need to work on few things to be more efficient. and he gave me a paper from HR to sign on that i have 60 days to improve myself on those specif things at work.


i need some advise please because i'm under the impression that they are using the performance as the backup to dismiss me, but I have a feeling this attitude is coming from that i told them i'm going through IUI.



thank you,