| Read Time: 2 minutes | Reasonable Accommodation

According to the 1999 Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), working from home – also commonly referred to as remote work or telework – is an acceptable form of reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. The employee must determine whether to grant the worker’s request to work from home as a reasonable accommodation through a flexible “interactive process” between both parties. 

The process begins when an employee informs the employer that he/she has a medical condition that interferes with the way he/she performs his/her job. The worker does not need to say, “reasonable accommodation,” “ADA,” or any special word to make this request, but must tell the employer that there needs to be a change in the way his/her job is performed. 

Furthermore, the employee must explain how his/her disability limits his/her ability to perform their job at the workplace and how the work duties could still be fulfilled remotely. The employer is allowed to request medical information related to the worker’s medical condition to determine if the employee’s disability is defined by the ADA. 

Next, the employer must determine If the employee can perform all essential functions or duties at home. Essential duties or functions mean fundamental tasks to perform a particular job.  

Although employers do not have to remove any essential task, they may be able to reassign or substitute minor or marginal duties if they cannot be performed outside of the workplace and that is the only factor holding the employee back from telework.  

However, some jobs cannot be performed at home. Common examples include truck drivers, cashiers, and food servers. 

The following are several factors an employer will consider in determining whether to grant an employee’s reasonable accommodation to work remotely: 

  • If the employer can adequately supervise the employee. 

  • If the employee must use certain equipment or tools that are not available at home. 

  • If the employee’s job duties include regular coordination or face-to-face interaction with coworkers, clients, or customers. 

  • If the employee can access certain documents or other information only found in the workplace. 

  • Whether working part-time at home and part-time in the workplace can fulfill both parties’ needs. 

  • If there is another type of reasonable accommodation available that is financially feasible and does not impede business operations. 

Keep in mind, employers must not deny an employee’s request solely based on limited contact with other employees. As we have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom and other video conferencing interfaces have made such duties possible. 

If a federal agency has denied your reasonable accommodation request, contact Pines Federal today at (800) 801-0598 to discuss your case. Our firm has more than 50 years of combined legal experience! 

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Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach. He represents federal employees and acts as in-house counsel for over fifty thousand federal employees through his work as a federal employee labor union representative.

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