Remote Work Due to Medical Condition or Disability

Medical Conditions & Disabilities Necessitating Remote Work or Working from Home

Koller Law Firm is at the forefront of Covid & remote work requests due to a medical condition, like pregnancy, brain injuries, etc. Koller Law Firm’s cases have been featured in local and national news.

In the most recent case, we filed an employment law claim against a Pennsylvania law firm on behalf of an employee who was terminated after requesting remote work due to a major medical condition.

Contact our Philadelphia employment law firm for a free, no obligation consultation. We accept cases across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Below are the legal principles that allow employees to seek compensation for being terminated or demoted following a request to work remotely due to a medical condition or disability.

First is a brief explanation of disability discrimination law. Second is an analysis of how remote work may qualify as a reasonable accommodation, which employers are required to provide for disabled employees.

Koller Law’s Latest Disability Discrimination Case Results

· Confidential Settlement Physical Disability Discrimination in Phila. – Client terminated after employer refused to provide reasonable accommodation

· $50K Hearing Impaired Disability Discrimination in Lebanon Co. – Client was denied a position

· $75K Wheel-Chair Bound Employee in NJ – Client terminated after employer failed to provide reasonable accommodation

· Confidential Settlement for Hearing Impaired Employee in Montgomery Co. – Client was denied a position

Disability Discrimination in Employment – A Look at Federal Law

Disability discrimination in employment is barred under federal and Pennsylvania (state) law. The applicable federal law is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the state law is the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA).

To qualify as a disability under the ADA, the condition must constitute a substantial impairment, not a minor one. The condition must significantly limit or restrict a major life activity like hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, working, etc.

A variety of disabilities may qualify under the ADA, including but not limited to,

  • multiple sclerosis,
  • respiratory conditions,
  • developmental disabilities,
  • PTSD,
  • diabetes, and
  • heart conditions.

The ADA’s protections only apply to disabled employees if both of the following are true:

  1. The employee satisfies the job requirements (education, experience, skills, certifications, licenses, etc.).
  2. The employee can perform the essential functions of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Remote Work & Reasonable Accommodation

During the Covid pandemic, employees throughout Pennsylvania adapted to remote work, proving it is effective. Law firms, medical offices, colleges/universities, telecom companies, etc., moved to an entirely remote working environment in 2020 and 2021. Many employers have adopted a hybrid in-office, remote work policy. Others will remain 100% remote into 2022.

What happens when an employee needs to work from home on a permanent or partial basis? Is the remote work request reasonable?

Since 2003, the EEOC has recognized that remote work may be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA:

“Not all persons with disabilities need – or want – to work at home. And not all jobs can be performed at home. But, allowing an employee to work at home may be a reasonable accommodation where the person’s disability prevents successfully performing the job on-site and the job, or parts of the job, can be performed at home without causing significant difficulty or expense.”

See EEOC guidance sheet, Work at Home/Telework as a Reasonable Accommodation (published Feb. 3, 2003).

Under the ADA, a reasonable accommodation is a change in the work environment that permits a disabled employee to perform their job functions. This can include things like providing equipment, restructuring parts of the job, modifying work schedules, etc.

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would cause undue hardship (significant expenses or difficulty).

It’s important to note that the ADA applies not only to employees but also to job applicants. Here’s an example. An Army veteran with PTSD is interviewed for an office job at a company in Philadelphia. He is qualified for the job and has already passed an initial interview. During the final interview, he requests to work from home due to PTSD. His doctor recommends working from home until the PTSD improves. His application is denied, and when he calls to request an explanation, he is told that his remote work request was the sole issue.

In this instance, the Army vet would have a potential claim for disability discrimination under the ADA, based on the employer’s denial of his application solely on the basis of his request to work from home.

Pregnancy & Remote Work

Pregnancy is not considered a disability under the ADA. However, any medical conditions associated with pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, etc., may be recognized as a disability under the ADA. If there are no such medical conditions, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees with respect to any term or condition of employment. Learn more about pregnancy discrimination in employment.

About Koller Law Employment Lawyers

For decades, we’ve been handling employment law cases, including disability discrimination, for workers across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Koller Law is not run like every other firm – we provide the compassionate, individual attention employees need and deserve.

Call us at (215) 545-8917 or contact us to schedule a confidential case review today!

Last updated: November 29, 2023

Top Rated Employment Lawyer

For over 10 years, firm founder David Koller has been recognized as a “Top Rated Employment Litigation Attorney in Philadelphia” by Super Lawyers.

Koller Law - In the News

Koller Law’s employment cases and founder David Koller have been featured in national and local media. Learn more.

(March 14, 2021)
A Pa. mom says her boss forced her out of her job during the pandemic. She sued.

It’s close to impossible for many parents to work and also care for young children, said Philadelphia employment lawyer David Koller, who represents Delaney.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, effective March 2020, required employers to provide paid sick leave and paid leave to care for children whose schools had closed due to the pandemic. Employees who suffered demotions, lost pay, terminations or other negative consequences at work may be able to make a claim under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.


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