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Can remote work be a reasonable accommodation for a disability?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Individuals with disabilities can request reasonable accommodations to allow them to perform their job duties. Working from home has become a more common accommodation for certain employees. In particular, technology has evolved to support many different types of remote jobs.

A request for a reasonable accommodation is more likely to be approved if the relevant factors are considered at the outset.

Navigating workplace accessibility

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and many state and local equivalents, require most employers to provide reasonable accommodations to disabled workers. The ADA is a federal law that protects qualified employees with disabilities. You can ask for modifications to your job duties. Workplace accommodations may also help you perform essential job functions.

Assessing feasibility

Employers must evaluate the essential functions of a job. Then, they determine whether the requested accommodation is consistent with the job duties. The nature of the job duties may allow remote performance without compromising these functions. Otherwise, the employer may determine it is an unfeasible accommodation.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 48% of employees in Washington, DC, worked from home as of September 2022. Many people with disabilities may find their jobs pass the feasibility test.

Engaging in dialogue

The ADA encourages an interactive conversation about accommodations. You and your employer should explore potential reasonable accommodations together. Initiating an open conversation is an important step in the process.

Balancing employer needs

Employers must balance the needs of the individual’s job duties with the requirements of the business. Some job duties may lend themselves to remote work. Other job duties may need a physical presence. Employers may consider job responsibilities, communication requirements, and any need for in-person team collaboration.

As the workforce evolves, inclusive work environments create a more accessible professional landscape. Understanding your employment rights as a person with a disability allows you to assert your workplace needs.

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