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Part 2: MY BOSS SAYS . . . he won't discuss working at home as a way to accommodate my disability.

In making a request for accommodation, the employee does not need to use technical words like "accommodation."  The employee simply has to let the employer know, preferably in writing, that a medical condition interferes with the employee's ability to do the job and that he or she proposes working at home as a solution.

The employer and the employee then must engage in the "interactive process."  This means that the employer and employee must discuss the request for accommodation so the employer can understand why working at home might be a necessity.  An employer cannot refuse to engage in this discussion.

The interactive process discussion between employer and employee should include a review of all the essential job functions and whether they can be performed at home.  If the job requires coordination with other employees, the parties should discuss whether such coordination and interaction can be conducted over the phone or through emails.  If the employee will work at home only part of the time or for a limited time, a schedule should be discussed and implemented.  If certain minor duties could be traded with other employees to even out the workload, this is another area for discussion during the interactive process.

The employer may wish to discuss alternatives to working at home and may ask for information and reasonable documentation about the employee's medical condition if it is unclear whether the condition is considered a disability under the ADA.   Employees should be aware that where a job requires close on-site supervision, telecommuting may not be ideal.

The bottom line is that disabled employees who feel telecommuting is a valid solution that will allow them to do their jobs more effectively should request this accommodation from their employer.  Be prepared to discuss telecommuting and other options extensively with your employer in what we call the "interactive process."  And by all means, be sure to call an experienced employment law attorney and seek professional advice if you are uncertain of how to proceed or if your employer refuses to talk to you about accommodating your disability.