Telework as ADA Reasonable Accommodation Still a Hard Sell to Courts

Katz, Marshall & Banks senior counsel Carolyn Wheeler was quoted in a Bloomberg Law article on telework as an ADA accommodation, “Work at home gets Skeptical Eye from Courts as Disability Issue.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act require employers to make available accommodations to qualified workers who have a disability. While working from home – or “teleworking” – is now a widespread business practice, most courts have held that telework is not a reasonable accommodation for employees whose disabilities prevent them from working in traditional office settings full-time. Employers have won 70 percent of such rulings over the past two years.

Despite the grim numbers for plaintiffs, Ms. Wheeler, Senior Counsel at Katz, Marshall & Banks and former Assistant General Counsel at the EEOC, has seen hints of progress over the past several years. “Courts used to say: ‘It’s not reasonable, the end.’ Now courts are more likely to say: ‘It could be reasonable, but not in this case.’”

A number of circumstances factor into the likelihood that a court will rule in the plaintiff’s favor, such as how long the employee will telework and the exact nature of the employee’s job responsibilities. The key question each side must answer is why or why not a physical presence is needed to perform the job.

Read the full story here.