Granting an employee’s request to work full-time from home can be considered a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but that doesn’t mean employers have to grant such requests.
“You should engage in the interactive process to determine whether permanent work-from-home status is truly needed under the circumstances,” recommends attorney Jeremy Ben Merkelson of the law firm of Holland & Hart.
What you willl need to do is assess whether working from home is a reasonable accommodation or whether it would impose an undue burden on your particular operations, he points out.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has long taken the position that working from home can be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, but determong reasonableness depends on the differing circumstances of each situation.
Even if an accommodation is reasonable, it can still be denied if it would amount to an undue hardship for an employer, according to Merkelson.
“Courts tend to be less protective of accommodation requests seeking indefinite remote work as opposed to remote work on a limited and defined basis,” he notes.
Merkelson stresses that, to deny the request, the employers would need to show true undue hardship would result from permanent remote work. You may have to establish that the job requires in-person performance as an essential job function.
Making your case may turn out to be made more difficult because widespread telework became common during the depths of the lockdowns when last year’s Covid 19 pandemic conditions were at their height
This would especailly be the case if the employee involved can show that they and similarly situated coworkers that over the past year showed they capable are of working effectively from home.