Before approving an employee’s request to telecommute from her home in a different state, consider that you may have to follow a different set of employment laws. If she ends up suing your company, she may do so in the state where she performed her work.
Recent case: Carla was fired from her executive job with Home Infusion Solutions after she informed HR she wantedto undergo inpatient treatment for alcoholism. The company was based in New Jersey, but Carla had worked from her home office in Pennsylvania for about five years. She worked from both home and an office in New Jersey for a few months before she was eventually fired.
Carla filed an, ADA and Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) lawsuit in a federal court in Pennsylvania. The WPCL claim was based on the company’s alleged failure to pay a bonus she claimed she had earned before her discharge.
The company argued the case should be moved to a New Jersey court, but the judge refused. It was clear that Carla had been allowed to work from Pennsylvania for a long time and therefore that state was an appropriate forum for the lawsuit. (Sparkler v. Home Infusion Solutions, No. 13-3969, ED PA, 2013)
Final note: Before approving a telecommuting request, clarify where the employee intends to work. Then have your attorney review the deal before signing.