Telecommuting as an ADA Accommodation

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
In light of the recent decision in EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, (6th Cir. April 22, 2014), telecommuting as an Americans with Disabilities Act accommodation has become a topic that employers need to revisit.  In that case, the Sixth Circuit remanded the case to the district court.  In so doing, they stated that due to the advancement in technology, the workplace no longer has to be assumed as the employer's physical location.  The workplace should be anywhere that an employee can perform his/her job duties.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform a job, or gain equal access to the benefits and privileges of a job. The ADA does not require an employer to provide a specific accommodation if it causes undue hardship, i.e., significant difficulty or expense.

In a 2009 fact sheet on Work At Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation published by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Commission stated that not all persons with disabilities need - or want - to work at home. Not all jobs can be performed at home. Allowing an employee to work at home may be a reasonable accommodation where the person's disability prevents successfully performing the job on-site and the job, or parts of the job, can be performed at home without causing significant difficulty or expense.

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