Period of Telework Was Reasonable Accommodation
A jury’s verdict that an attorney had been denied reasonable accommodation under the ADA when the company refused to allow her to telework for a 10-week period of bedrest was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, despite the company’s argument that in-person attendance was an essential function of the job.
In Mosby-Meachem v. Memphis Light, Gas & Water Div., in support of its argument that in-person attendance was an essential function of the attorney’s job that would prohibit telework, the company offered a job description and testimony of former attorneys. The court observed, however, that the job description was based on a 20-year old questionnaire that did not take into account technological advancements that had changed the job. In addition, the period of time for which the attorney sought to telework was limited, and she had successfully worked remotely in that position on previous occasions.
The lessons for employers here is to ensure that job descriptions are up-to-date and accurate, and to consider whether there are technological options that could enable the performance of the job on a remote basis.