June 17, 2014

Human Resource Executive Features Steve Hirschfeld Discussing Workplace Accommodations


Employment Law Alliance Founder and CEO and Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP Co-managing Partner Stephen J. Hirschfeld is quoted in Human Resource Executive article “Telecommuting: Benefit or Accommodation.”

The article explores the decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter EEOC v. Ford Motor Co. In its holding, the court reversed a U.S. district court in Michigan’s earlier grant of summary judgement to Ford, thereby indicating that telecommuting may indeed be a reasonable accommodation. The specific case at hand was sent back to a jury to decide.

Regarding the reversal, Hirschfeld comments:

The court has moved away from what has been a long-standing deference to employers in determining whether being physically present is an essential function of a job. This represents a significant change. I have seen the trends in the ADA change over the past 30 years, but the common denominator has historically been that the courts are highly deferential to employers when determining essential job functions.

Hirschfeld later notes that traditionally whether an employee needed to physically be in the office is a decision made by each company on an employee-by-employee basis:

The historical position courts have taken is that these issues are for employers to decide. Courts and juries shouldn’t superimpose their opinions on that.

The changing nature of work does, however, offer more flexibility as Hirschfeld references:

…to take a draconian position by making everyone be in the office every day would go too far. That’s why you want to look at job descriptions.

To read the full article, please click here.