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Pandemic Telework May Undermine Employer ADA Defense

Bracewell’s Bob Nichols and Caroline Melo examine in a recent Law360 article how the COVID-19 crisis may undermine a long-standing employer Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) defense.

In the past, many companies have declined to allow employees to work from home on a regular basis because of medical conditions that can make leaving home difficult. Businesses have argued successfully in most cases that coming to the office is an “essential function” of the job and therefore the employer does not need to allow regular teleworking as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Now, with the vast majority of companies having office employees working from home during this pandemic, will that long-standing and usually successful ADA defense be dramatically undercut based on the notion that companies are functioning effectively during this coronavirus crisis with employees working from home?

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