Employment Law: Does Telecommuting Qualify as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the ADA?

A significant number of jobs can be now performed remotely. According to data collected and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 25 percent of Americans workers telecommute at least some of the time. For disabled workers, telecommuting can provide much needed flexibility.

You may be wondering: Can I get telework as a reasonable accommodation for my disability? The answer is that it depends on your specific situation. That being said, there are circumstances in which telework will be warranted. Here, our Georgia employment discrimination lawyers discuss the key issues that impact whether or not a worker can obtain telework as a reasonable accommodation.

Your Employer Must Be Covered Under the ADA

First and foremost, you need to know whether or not your employer is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In the private sector, the ADA applies to companies with at least 15 total employees. If your employer is covered by the ADA, you may be eligible to obtain a reasonable accommodation for your disability.

The Essential Functions of the Position Must Be Performed 

Under the ADA, an accommodation is only considered to be ‘reasonable’ if it does not present an undue burden for the employer. Among other things, this means that the employee must still be able to satisfy the essential functions of the position after receiving the accommodation. As described by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), essential job functions are the fundamental duties that absolutely must be performed within the position.

For obvious reasons, not every position can be performed through telework. In some cases, employees do need to be at a specific location, at least some of the time, to satisfy the essential functions of their job. That being said, if all or most of your job duties can be performed remotely, telework as an accommodation may be appropriate.

Employers May Propose an Alternative Accommodation

The ADA does not require an employer to offer a disabled worker any specific accommodation. Instead, the law simply mandates that employers must enter a good faith process to find the disabled employee a suitable accommodation for their disability. In practice, this means that employers have the right to offer disabled workers an alternative accommodation. If that alternative accommodation is effective, then the employer has lived up to their obligations under the ADA.

If an employer simply denies telework and refuses to offer a disabled employee any other type of effective accommodation, then they may have violated federal law. If you find yourself in this situation, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced disability discrimination attorney right away.

Speak to a Georgia Employment Law Attorney Today

At the Vaughn Law Firm, our Georgia employment lawyers represent private sector employees and federal workers in the full range of discrimination claims. To set up a free, strictly confidential initial consultation, please contact our law firm right away. With an office in Decatur, we represent employees throughout the region, including in DeKalb County, Fulton County, and Cobb County.