Can my employer to require me to sign a contract that saysI will return to work after maternity leave or reimburse the company for certain travel expenses?

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Can my employer to require me to sign a contract that saysI will return to work after maternity leave or reimburse the company for certain travel expenses?

I was asked by my manager if I wanted to go to Boston for a conference; she would cover registration, hotel, and air fare. I said yes. About 10 days ago, I learned I was pregnant and had full intentions on still going on the trip. Registration already been paid and the hotel reservations were made. A co-worker went to my manager and informed her I was not returning after my maternity leave which I’ve never indicated (however it did cross my mind). My manager recently asked me if this was true and said she will have me sign a contract saying that I will reimburse for the cost of the trip if I don’t return.

Asked on March 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is probably not legal if you are singled out for this treatment or requirement because you are pregnant; requiring only pregnant women to do this would likely be illegal discrimation (the law specifically prohibits discriminating against womeen in employement due to pregnancy).

What would be legal would be the employer had a rule that any employee who quits or resigns within, say, six months of an employer-funded conference has to repay the cost thereof--since that rule would not single out pregnant women, there would be nothing discriminatory in it.


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