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TELECOMMUTING AS REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION

With modern technology, many workers can perform their jobs from alternate locations, such as a home office. So, when is physical presence at the employer’s worksite an essential function of the job? In EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals answered that question when it held that telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability.

Alcoholic truck driver case is good for transportation employers, but be careful

ROBIN’S NOTE: I am happy to have Tommy Eden back again for a guest post. Tommy is from Constangy’s offices in Opelika, Alabama, and West Point, Georgia. He drafts DOT and state-specific drug testing policies for clients nationwide, and he serves on the Board of the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association.

ADA interactive process: A quiz for employers

What do you really know about the “interactive process” under the Americans with Disabilities Act? This is one area in which I am always getting questions, and I think it’s the terminology that scares employers. “Interactive process” sounds so intimidating.

Tenth Circuit Upholds Employer’s Inflexible Leave Policy

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance provides that employers violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by enforcing inflexible policies with specified leave limits.

Tenth Circuit Says a Leave of Absence of More than Six Months Is Virtually Never a Required Accommodation

“[R]easonable accommodations…are all about enabling employees to work, not to not work.”1 This fundamental insight guides the recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, holding that a six-month, inflexible leave policy is virtually always “more than sufficient” to comply with the Rehabilitation Act, and by implication, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).2 The court provided employers with refreshingly clear guidance on how to best structure leave policies to avoid exposure for disability discrimination claims.

Decision Holding Telecommuting to Be a Reasonable Accommodation Provides a Cautionary Tale for Employers

In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit in EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., No. 12-2484 (6th Cir. April 22, 2014) has dealt employers a blow regarding the extent to which a company must reasonably accommodate an employee with a disability. In this particular case, the employee sought a four-day-per-week telecommuting arrangement. Even though Ford found in its business judgment that this was not a workable arrangement, the court disagreed, noting that due to modern technology, the types of jobs where employees can fulfill all essential requirements while working remotely has significantly increased.

Is Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA the New Norm?

Executive Summary: The Sixth Circuit recently held that a four day per week telecommuting arrangement could be a reasonable accommodation for a disabled employee, even though the employer determined, in its business judgment, that teleconferencing was an insufficient substitute for in-person work. The court noted that, given the state of modern technology, the class of cases in which an employee can fulfill all requirements of the job while working remotely has greatly increased, and it is no longer the case that jobs suitable for telecommuting are "extraordinary" or "unusual." See EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., No. 12-2484 (6th Cir. Apr. 22, 2014).

Telecommuting as reasonable accommodation: the interview!

Thanks very much to Colin O'Keefe of LXBN-TV for interviewing me yesterday on the EEOC v. Ford Motor Company case that I posted about last Friday. This is the case in which a panel of the Sixth Circuit said that Ford had to offer telecommuting to an employee as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I was not quite on board with the court's decision.

Employer Must Prove Physical Presence in Workplace is Essential Function, Sixth Circuit Rules

Likely making it easier for employees to telecommute from home as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2-1, has determined that “attendance” is no longer synonymous with physical presence in the workplace. EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, No. 12-2484 (6th Cir. Apr. 22, 2014). The Sixth Circuit has jurisdiction over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Don’t panic about your telecommuting policy . . . unless you’re in the Sixth Circuit.

A recent decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seems to have sent many employers into a tailspin on whether and how often to allow employees to telecommute to fulfill job responsibilities. EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, 6th Cir., No. 12-2484, April 22, 2014. (FindLaw.com link.) However, at this point, it is too early to tell what kind of effect the decision will have on a wider basis.