Working From Home: A Reasonable Accommodation under ADA Law?

a woman working on a laptopA story published earlier this month in HR Dive (a newsletter for people in the Human Resources industry ) reported that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities hit a 7-year high last year. And that’s saying something – it’s not like the outlet for people with disabilities getting a job was all that great before the pandemic, either.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), back in 2019 only 19.3% of working-age people who had disabilities had a job. The number of people with disabilities working last year dropped to 17.9%. In its analysis, BLS pointed out that “Persons with a disability were more likely to work in service occupations and occupations involving production, transportation and material moving in 2020 than those without disabilities.” The analysis said employment in leisure and hospitality fell by 8.2 million jobs in the first two months of the pandemic, and 8.3% of employed persons with a disability were working in those fields before 2020.

Americans with disabilities have lagged far behind their peers in employment for far too long. Even before the pandemic, only two in ten people with disabilities were participating in the workforce (compared to seven in ten for people without disabilities). Despite efforts to help increase employment for people with disabilities (including the passage of the historic Rehabilitation Act of 1973) jobseekers with disabilities continue to face double digit unemployment.

For individuals with disabilities whose major challenge is getting to work (accessible public transportation, ADA compliance in the workplace and so on) this past year might change things for the better. COVID-19 risks motivated many employers to add work-from home options for workers and adopt virtual hiring processes. From the HR Dive article:

That adoption is expected to continue well into 2021. Combined with other measures to reduce bias in the hiring process, this change could vastly improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities.

The article even suggested that the impact of remote work in 2020 could encourage employers to consider work-at-home arrangements as reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I hope they’re right.


 

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  1. Jareema Warner Says:

    Looking forward to speaking with someone


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