|Today's post is authored by John Geaney, a member of the NJ Bar and a Shareholder at Capehart Scatchard and shared from linkedin.com|
Telecommuting is a trend that is rapidly growing in the United States, and telecommuting requests are also on the rise as a potential reasonable accommodation under the ADA. A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7502 (6 Cir. 2014) illustrates how difficult it can be for an employer to oppose a request for telecommuting.
Jane Harris was hired in 2003 by Ford as a resale buyer, serving as an intermediary between steel suppliers and “stampers,” which are companies that use steel to produce parts for Ford. Her job was to respond to emergency supply issues to ensure no gap in steel supply to parts manufacturers. The most important part of the job was group problem solving, requiring that a buyer be available to interact with members of the resale team, suppliers and others in the Ford system when problems arose.
Harris suffered from IBS, an illness that caused her fecal incontinence. Some days she could not drive to work or stand up from her desk without potentially soiling herself. She took intermittent leave when severe symptoms occurred. In 2005, her supervisor allowed her to work from home on a flex-time telecommuting schedule on a trial basis. The company did not view the trial period as a success. She continued to work occasionally from home doing remote work,...