Is Working From Home A Reasonable Accommodation Under The ADA?
There are a number of illnesses, disabilities, or injuries, whether physical or mental, where an employee may be able to do the work required from home, but where the disability doesn’t make it possible for the employee to work in an office. Of course, we have adapted to work-from-home since COVID-19, but is your employer required to allow you to work from home under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) if you have an illness or disability that would require that you do that? It depends.
The ADA requires that your employer make what’s known as a “reasonable accommodation” for you, if you do have an illness or disability that qualifies under the ADA. There is no one list of what “reasonable accommodations” are, and what is reasonable, or an accommodation, will vary, depending on the job, and the disability of the employee.
Creating a Program
As a general rule, if your employer has no work from home program, and no employees work from home, your employer doesn’t have to create one for you. For example, the employer doesn’t have to develop an entire work from home system if it doesn’t have one, just so that you can work from home.
But if your employer does allow anybody to work from home, it must allow you to do so, if your disability does qualify. It may also have to waive requirements—for example, if your company requires people to work for the company for a year before working from home, it would likely have to waive that requirement for you, if you needed to work from home immediately because of your disability.
Essential Job Functions
An employer must let you work from home if all of your essential job functions can be performed from home. Your employer doesn’t have to lessen your job, or lower requirements or job responsibilities, for you to do your job from home.
To use somewhat ridiculous examples, if you were employed as a lifeguard, or a truck driver, your boss wouldn’t have to allow you to work from home—that would strip away the core and fundamental requirements of the job itself.
On the other hand, if you were a secretary, or a customer service agent, or a public relations employee, it is much more likely that you could perform your job, the same way, from home.
You could not work from home if your job required using certain tools, or required certain levels of supervision that can’t be done from home.
Even if working from home isn’t feasible, your employer still may be required to look into whether a hybrid, part in-office, part out of the office arrangement, could be workable for you, before insisting that you work from the office.
Contact the San Jose employment law lawyers at the Costanzo Law Firm today for help if you are being discriminated against at work because of an illness or injury.