Although federal courts in Virginia typically find an employee’s physical presence at work to be an essential job function under the ADA, there are some instances where it’s not. Enter telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation.
A federal court in Ohio highlighted this recently, ruling that a county must consider telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation on a case-by-case basis. There, an employee suffered from extreme chemical sensitivity, and workplace smells triggered allergic reactions. The county refused to let her work from home. She sued, and the court said the county must at least consider telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation.
That’s not to say telecommuting always is a reasonable accommodation, but it’s something employers should at least consider on a fact-specific basis.