Working remotely was not such a big thing before the pandemic hit and then it became business as usual. Now that so many companies have changed back to on-site and hybrid environments, employees who are put on bedrest for medical reasons can be faced with difficult situations. Even though their physicians insist that they must be homebound, their employers might not want to allow them to work from home at all.
Can My Employer Turn Down My Request to Work From Home?
Being put on bed rest is especially difficult for employees who cannot perform their job responsibilities remotely. Examples include a cashier, a construction worker, or a grocery store clerk. These workers may need to be assigned temporary remote work to seek other options or until they can safely return.
Employees who can work remotely might not be offered the chance, though. There is no U.S. federal law that gives workers the right to work from home. Certain states passed ones during the pandemic but for now, NJ companies are not required to let employees do this.
What About Reasonable Accommodations?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides legal protections that can help employees who cannot work on-site. This applies to most employers, requiring them to offer reasonable accommodations to company policies and/or work environments when employees have qualifying disabilities that affect their abilities to perform their jobs. This means that working from home might fall into this category, depending on the circumstances. The caveat is that the accommodations cannot cause undue hardship for the company. This means that working from home should not lead to a financial burden, be disruptive to the business, or be substantially extensive or problematic.
Are There Any Examples of ADA Accommodation Lawsuits?
In 2018, a Memphis, TN woman was awarded more than $110,000 in an award under the ADA. She alleged that her employer had denied her request to work from home when she was on bed rest due to pregnancy complications.
According to the case records the employer had emailed her and other staff members a note in 2011, requiring them to be on-site from 8:30 to 5 p.m. each day: At the time, many of the other employers were telecommuting. After becoming pregnant, she was ordered on bed rest in 2013 after being hospitalized. She made an official accommodation request for 10 weeks of working from home or the hospital in January of that year, and included the pertinent documentation.
Her request was denied by the ADA committee which cited confidentiality concerns and reasoned that her physical presence was required for the job. Still, she continued working from home until the baby was born several months later. During that time, she was getting sick leave through the Family Medical Leave Act and short-term disability benefits. She subsequently sued for pregnancy discrimination, a failure to accommodate, and retaliation. This case went to trial and the jury awarded her the verdict.
Contact the South Jersey Employment Lawyers at The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC For All Types of Employment Discrimination
If you have been put on bed rest and your employer will not let you work from home, you still have certain rights under the law. To learn more, contact the skilled South Jersey employment lawyers from The Law Offices of Leo B. Dubler, III, LLC. We offer free consultations and our representatives are ready to help. Submit our online form today or call our Mount Laurel, Atlantic City, New Jersey offices at 856-235-7075. We help clients throughout Cherry Hill, Burlington County, Camden County, and South Jersey.