Q. We have an employee with a disability who has requested to work from home part time as an accommodation for her disability. Are we required to grant this request?
A. While allowing your employee to work from home might not have been required as a reasonable accommodation 10 years ago, technological advances are changing the legal analysis.
At least one court recently held that telecommuting may be a form of reasonable accommodation given advancements in technology. In EEOC v. Ford Motor Co. (No. 12-2484, 6th Cir., 2014), the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reasoned that technological advancements and the growth in flexible work arrangements in today’s workplaces makes it more appropriate and reasonable than in the past to allow an employee to work from home.
Therefore, you should carefully consider the request and whether the employee’s duties can be done from home, at least temporarily or on occasion. This development in the law does not change an employer’s ability to require regular attendance during normal business hours, but it does mean that regular attendance may increasingly take place via telecommuting.
Megan L. Anderson is an attorney with Gray Plant Mooty’s Employment Law Practice Group in Minneapolis. Concentrating her practice in employment law counseling and litigation, she regularly advises employers and provides training on a variety of employment law issues. Contact her at email@example.com or (612) 632-3004.