A court recently held that telecommuting, in certain circumstances, may be a reasonable accommodation that an employer must provide.
In Mosby-Meacham v. Memphis Light & Gas, the plaintiff worked as an in-house lawyer for about seven years, became pregnant and unfortunately suffered from a medical condition that, although treatable, put herself and her unborn child at risk. Following doctor orders, she asked to work from home for 10 weeks until the baby was born, but the employer denied her request, claiming that telecommuting from home would not allow her to perform the essential functions of the job.
The employer claimed that attendance at the job-site was an essential function and presented testimony of coworkers that physical attendance was needed to do the job and relied on a job description.
The plaintiff also presented coworker testimony in support of her position and evidence that she did not perform the tasks that the employer relied on in the job description, as she had never tried a case or taken a deposition, although both were in the job description. She also argued that the employer had allowed her to work from the hospital when she had been in-patient and did so without difficulty.
The Court held that under the specific facts of this case, attendance was not an essential function. The Court emphasized that the plaintiff had performed her duties remotely in the past, her job was not tied to her office desk and the requested accommodation was for a limited duration, and the court awarded the employee $92,000 in compensatory damages.
In summary, while pregnancy itself may not be a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, complications that arise from a pregnancy may be a covered disability. What's more, under the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations; also, employees may have some protections under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Lebau & Neuworth attorneys are experts at identifying and defending employee rights, including whenever their "reasonable accommodation" rights have been violated. If you feel your employer may have neglected to provide you with reasonable accommodations pertaining to your job for any reason, contact Lebau & Neuworth for the advice and protection to which you are legally entitled at 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.