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May 1, 2014

EEOC Advises Against Applying Inflexible Policies When Responding To Accommodation Requests

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently published an Informal Discussion Letter (the “Letter”) cautioning employers against maintaining inflexible policies when it comes to handling reasonable accommodation requests. The Letter reminds employers that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”), they must address reasonable accommodation requests “on an individualized basis.” The Letter advises against maintaining policies that are rigidly applied to all requests for accommodation.

For example, the Letter advises that an employer may run afoul of the ADA by utilizing an overly broad or misleading accommodation request form or maintaining a policy prohibiting it from providing employees with unscheduled or erratic leave time. While many requests for such leave may be unreasonable, the Letter cautions that it is “highly unlikely that an employer could deny unscheduled leave in all cases.” (Emphasis added.) Similarly, the Letter provides that a blanket policy preventing employees from working from home may lead an employer to violate the ADA, particularly in light of technological developments that may now allow teleworking to be considered a reasonable accommodation. The letter can be found at:

Take Away for Employers

Employers must review accommodation requests on a case-by-case basis and should avoid developing and applying inflexible policies when considering the reasonableness of a request.

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Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions concerning your reasonable accommodation policy or specific accommodation