This spring, the Sixth Circuit held that a telecommuting arrangement could be a reasonable accommodation for an employee suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. The EEOC argued that the employee was qualified for the position with a telecommuting accommodation.
The Federal appellate court held that the burden shifted to the employer to prove either that physical presence is an essential function of the position, or the telecommuting arrangement would create an undue hardship, and these issues were questions for a jury to determine. The Sixth Circuit sent the case back to the district court for trial of those issues.
As technology develops and remote workers increase, employers should take note that telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation that must be offered to disabled employees.
This case offers an interesting and thorough analysis as to whether a telecommuting arrangement could be an appropriate accommodation. The Federal appellate court heavily analyzed the specific facts of the employee’s job and whether telecommuting could be an option. Employers are well advised to do the same and carefully assess whether requested telecommuting accommodations should be granted in particular cases.