You’re not alone if you’ve had members of your crew asking to continue working from home even though most folks have returned to the workplace at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lots of people prefer the flexibility of doing their jobs at home, and they’d like to maintain the arrangement. However, employers are moving forward with plans to require folks to come into the workplace at least a few days a week.
That’s why more people are asking to work from home as a reasonable accommodation for a disability. And someone denied an accommodation could pursue a costly lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Keep in mind that you’re obligated to work with a disabled staffer to identify potential accommodations and that you can only deny an accommodation by proving that it presents an undue hardship.
First, determine whether the employee seeking the accommodation of working from home actually has a disability. Ask the staffer to provide you with evidence that the condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA.
Talk to your HR manager before deciding whether the condition could be considered an ADA disability.
If it’s determined that the crew member does have a disability, engage in the so-called interactive process to identify an accommodation.
But you don’t have to just accept the accommodation proposed by the disabled person. For instance, if a staffer says he needs to work remotely because he has depression, you might still require him to come into the workplace but offer him a modified schedule.
Similarly, if a staffer says she doesn’t want to return to the workplace for fear of contracting COVID-19, you might offer her an isolated work environment where masks and extra sanitation measures are mandatory.
(From the Oct. 7, 2022, issue of HR Managers Legal Alert for Supervisors. To start your no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)