December 16, 2016 / Published Work

How far does an employer have to go to accommodate an employee with a disability? Do I have to allow an employee to work from home?

A: An employer’s obligation under the ADA (and equivalent state laws) to provide reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities is a fact-intensive and situation-specific analysis that starts with the employer and the employee engaging in an “interactive process.” This two-way, sometimes ongoing, conversation should enable the employer to determine the limitations caused by the disability and to understand the employee’s suggestions about possible accommodations. The employer is not required to provide the “best” possible accommodation, or even the accommodation preferred by the employee.

Rather, the employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation that permits the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, as long as it does not impose an “undue hardship” on the employer. For some jobs, technology has developed to the point that working remotely (for at least some hours/days during the workweek) must be considered as a possible accommodation. But for many jobs, reliable and regular attendance at the workplace will be considered an “essential function.”


David Croall

Porter Wright