Any employee that has a condition that qualifies them as disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act may be allowed to telecommute as a form of a reasonable accommodation. An employer may be required to allow this, as long as the employee qualifies under the ADA guidelines for telecommuting. The guidelines that would require an employer to do so include the following:
- The employer is ADA covered. This applies to all employers, both public and private, who have 15 or more workers
- The employee must be a qualified employee, meaning that they meet the requirements for the job whether or not they are accommodated.
- The employee must have a disability as the ADA defines it.
- An undue burden must not be brought upon the employer by an employee telecommuting.
What Qualifies as Disability?
The ADA prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a qualified individual’s disability. This means that employers cannot discriminate against handicapped people during the application process, hiring, training, advancement and firing. Individuals must also not be denied employment privileges such as benefits simply because they are disabled. As mentioned, this federal law covers businesses that currently have 15 or more employees.
According to the ADA, a disability is qualified if an individual has a mental or physical impairment that has a significant impact on and limits them from completing major life activities. Even those with records of these types of impairments qualify. These are examples of major life activities:
- The ability to perform manual tasks
Examples of people who would be considered disabled include those with epilepsy, extreme visual or hearing impairment, HIV, AIDS, paralysis, learning disabilities and mental retardation. Those who would typically not be covered would include people with non-chronic, minor conditions such as the flu, sprains or broken limbs.
Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Individuals
Under the ADA, if an employee’s condition does qualify them as disabled, an employer will be required to make a reasonable arrangement that will allow the person to work despite their handicap as long as the employer does not have to experience an undue burden. If the undue burden exists and the employer does not accommodate the employee, it is not considered discrimination.
One example of a reasonable accommodation that a qualified disabled person may receive is the ability to telecommute. Many employers have telecommuting guidelines employees can consult to get more details. An example of a situation where such an arrangement can be made is if an employee is undergoing treatments and is not well enough to physically go to work and has a job such as making calls that can be done from home. This would likely not be an undue burden to the employer.
An employee should discuss such telecommuting guidelines with their employer. If the essential functions of the employee’s job are unable to be performed at home, an employer does not have to allow for telecommuting. However, if the duties of the worker are minor, and they are able to be given to other workers on certain days when the disabled individual is unable to do them, the situation may be different.
More Information for Employers
If you have an employee who is seeking telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation, a court will determine the reasonableness, as well as the disability. Remember, if the person is not qualified for the job to begin with, then refusing to hire them will not be considered a discriminatory act based on disability. In addition, in order for an accommodation to be given, the employee’s condition must be known. They cannot bring a claim for something you were unaware of. Knowing these aspects will be helpful in providing assistance to those who need it, as well as in allowing you to run your business properly.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.