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JustCan

Business Travel - What To Do?

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I need some advice. I have to travel fairly often for my job. These are usually team meetings or other group events/conferences. My department plans them and always brings in pizza, sandwiches, etc for lunch. Then we go out for dinner with planned menus of crab cakes and pasta. I haven't had to deal with this much since going gluten free but I have a few trips coming up. I always bring food with me but here is my question...

Can this be deemed as a type of disability where they have to make other accomodations for me? We're not allowed to expense other food if food (i.e. pizza) has already been purchased for the group which makes travel really difficult. Any idea what the rules are around making special accomodations for food or possibly even restricting my travel because of this? I work for a Fortune 100 company if that makes any difference.

Thanks! This has been weighing on me since I'm really concerned about getting sick on one of these trips.

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I also travel on business. Celiac is covered by the American Disabilities act. You could ask the person who is ordering the food to order for one less person. You should still be able to drink the soda. Next, you could start calling to locate the person in the company who can authorize reimbursement of your meals while on travel. Below is a basic description of how I travel.

I always provide my own food. I do this through a combination of packing my own meals and going grocery shopping when I get to my destination. I rent a hotel room with a kitchen so I can prepare my own meals. This generally means that I am not staying with the rest of the group. My company reimburses me for my grocery bill and any meals. Since I can't provide a reciept for the meals I cook and pack I don't ask for these to be reimbursed.

If everyone is going out I either steer them to a place with a gluten free menu, eat before hand or bring along a dinner that does not need to be reheated.

Good Luck.

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I'm really not sure, but I *think* companies generally provide food for employees while on business trips. Since you can't eat the food that they purchase, I would think they'd have to accomodate and reimburse your food expenses. Do you have an HR policy on travel and what expenses are reimbursed? There might be something in there about food, and they deal with it by ordering something that everyone eats rather than letting people get what they want an having to deal with all that. My company I know has a reimbursement limit for lunch and dinner for business travel (it's something ridiculously high like $50 for lunch and $100 for dinner).

On a side note, pizza is really not at all healthy. You'd think they could find something better for lunches so all their employees don't drop dead from heart attacks. Not ripping on your company specifically here, mine would do the same. It's more of a general pet peeve of mine :)

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I need some advice. I have to travel fairly often for my job. These are usually team meetings or other group events/conferences. My department plans them and always brings in pizza, sandwiches, etc for lunch. Then we go out for dinner with planned menus of crab cakes and pasta. I haven't had to deal with this much since going gluten free but I have a few trips coming up. I always bring food with me but here is my question...

Can this be deemed as a type of disability where they have to make other accomodations for me? We're not allowed to expense other food if food (i.e. pizza) has already been purchased for the group which makes travel really difficult. Any idea what the rules are around making special accomodations for food or possibly even restricting my travel because of this? I work for a Fortune 100 company if that makes any difference.

Thanks! This has been weighing on me since I'm really concerned about getting sick on one of these trips.

Hello there - I travel quite a bit for work, too, but I'm not often put in a position to eat from a fixed menu - that would be a difficult situation. My company is moderately large (>5000 employees) but not as large as yours. Since you're working for a very big company, they will have a correspondingly big Human Resources department, perhaps even a company clinic or physician. I recommend that you get in touch with your HR department...and bring with you one good, credentialed piece of information about Celiac Disease, for example, a printout of the Celiac Disease information from the NIH (National Institutes of Health). Highlight the parts that talk about the importance of a pure diet. Explain the difficulty of your situation and ask if they can help you work out an acceptable arrangement. An "acceptable arrangement" might be an exemption that allows you to expense your meals separately from the group, or perhaps allows you to get reimbursed for a set amount of "per diem" towards meal expenses you incur - this would allow you to order your own food. Or perhaps you could help participate in choosing the restaurants themselves - if you volunteer to research the choices that will be available at your destination. Also acceptable might also be an exemption from travel, but this might cost you some career opportunities in the long run if everyone else is participating in off-site meetings and you are not. I have found that social networking is fairly important in the business world - important discussions often happen over meals.

I don't tend to skip business meals - but I do sometimes go light on the amount and types of food I eat when I'm out. I was glutened one time when I wasn't clear enough about my dietary needs...but otherwise I have been fine. In situations when I know I won't be around a good selection of food (i.e. retreat at a lake house), I pack a small cooler of things that travel well - and snack out of the cooler throughout the day. My boss has caught on over time and now tends to pick places where I'll be able to eat something.

April

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Thanks so much for your suggestions! Unfortunately, human resources is outsourced and not very helpful in most situations. We have to do everything by phone. I can try talking to my manager about not having them expense food for me so I have a little more flexibility. Our meal allowance is only $40 a day which really isn't much if I'm in a major city and they've already used part of it for a group meal. And I totally agree on the pizza thing and how unhealthy of a choice it is! I've been at this job for almost three years (gluten-free for about 6 months) and I'm always shocked at the food they choose. I think they go for the cheapest option. My coworkers are pretty insensitive about the whole thing and I get "can you eat this, you probably can't eat that, you can have bread pudding right?, etc." We'll see how it goes. Thanks again.

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