Back to News

Telework: Is Forever a Reasonable Accommodation?

Published on

September 11, 2020

Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the reasonable accommodation standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

As employers reopen their physical locations, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission this week released guidance that said simply because employers complied with Gov. Tom Wolf’s business closure and telework orders during the pandemic, that does not mean companies must automatically grant every telework request going forward. Instead, the normal pre-pandemic ADA interactive process must be followed, considering the essential functions of the position and undue hardship concerns.

The EEOC’s guidance specifically states that because employers permitted their employees to telework in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, that “does not mean that the employer permanently changed a job’s essential functions, that telework is always a feasible accommodation, or that it does not pose an undue hardship.” These, according to the EEOC, are fact-specific determinations.

The topic has become a hot one as employers begin to open their physical locations to their employees once again. Employers are now asking whether the temporary move to telework during the pandemic requires them to grant every request to telework as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA going forward.

The EEOC’s answer was strong on Tuesday. “The employer has no obligation under the ADA to refrain from restoring all of an employee’s essential duties at such time as it chooses to restore the prior work arrangement, and then evaluating any requests for continued or new accommodations under the usual ADA rules,” according to the guidance.

The ADA requires employers to provide disabled workers with “reasonable accommodations.” But an employer is not required to eliminate an essential function of the position, nor grant an accommodation that poses an undue hardship. While employers may determine teleworking is an appropriate accommodation for some employees, the EEOC clarified Tuesday that employers are not required to automatically offer telework as an accommodation.

If you have any questions regarding reasonable accommodations during or post-pandemic, please contact me or any other member of the Barley Snyder Employment Practice Group

Related News

View More News
News Alert
August 1, 2022

EEOC: COVID-19 Screening Now Must Meet Business Necessity Test

Although COVID-19 still poses a threat to businesses and the public, the U....

Learn More
News Alert
June 23, 2022

EEOC Updates Guidance on Employer Use of Assessment Software, Algorithms and AI

On May 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued ...

Learn More
News Alert
May 25, 2022

Losing the Forest for the Trees: Third Circuit Reverses NLRB in ‘Joke’ v. ‘Threat’ ULP Case

It was all a joke. That’s what the Third Circuit Court of Appeals conclud...

Learn More

Get in Touch

Our attorneys, paralegals and staff look forward to hearing from you. Please reach out to let us know how we can help.

Get In Touch
Super Lawyers
Best Law Firms US News
Best Lawyers