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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 117370
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I work large US company, where I am expected to travel

Customer Question

I work for a large US company, where I am expected to travel weekly to client locations. I was just assigned to a 2-month project where I will have to travel via flight every week. I just met a doctor last week who confirmed that I am pregnant and in my first trimester. With my morning sickness I am not in a position to travel.
In parallel, I am also interviewing with another group within my company. With this group I can be in a non-consulting role where I don't have to travel; however the interview process is lengthy and will take few more weeks.
a. How do I inform my company that I cannot travel on the project?
b. If I inform my group about my pregnancy, how do I ensure they keep it confidential and do not inform the other group where I am interviewing for internal role (as that may hamper my chances of getting the internal role)?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Pregnancy is considered a condition that qualifies for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and also the Family and Medical Leave Act. So you would need to provide information to the employer proving the pregnancy and inability to travel in a report from your doctor and ask the employer for some reasonable accommodation to allow you to do your job. If the employer refuses a reasonable accommodation, then you have a cause of action to file a complaint with the EEOC.
Also, if your employer uses your pregnancy against you to deny you the other position, that would be unlawful discrimination based on your sex and grounds to complain to the EEOC for sexual discrimination and to take action against the employer for that discrimination.
So you have legal protections here, but you would need to put your information in writing and make your demands to your employer for accommodation.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks so much for your answer. Few clarifying questions:
1) Since the project is about to start and HR is not available, is it ok to verbally update the project team about this situation before I have discussion with the HR?
2) For the internal role, they are still interviewing me, they may not even tell me why they rejected me. Hence it would be best if I don't let them know about my pregnancy before they make their decision on my candidature. Is there any way I can prevent HR from disclosing my pregnancy information to the other group? Can I tell HR that I would like to keep my pregnancy information confidential?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
You have to make a formal request to your employer for reasonable accommodations to be in compliance with the law. While I understand you are on a time constraint, you can provide the information to your supervisor who is also supposed to notify HR.
Unfortunately, you have to make a choice here to disclose and get your reasonable accommodation or you have to travel as requested by the employer. While you can ask the employer to not disclose the information to the other group, the employer has a legal right to disclose information about an employee that they believe is a legitimate business necessity to disclose.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your prompt response, this is very helpful. My company is also planning layoffs. Once I send a written letter to my HR informing them of my pregnancy, can they still fire me?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your reply.
It would be discriminatory based on sex and disability to terminate you because of informing them you are pregnant. However, you would bear the burden of proving that the reason for the termination was based on the pregnancy, which could be difficult as you could imagine.

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