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Employers who allow telecommuting as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act may be required to provide some equipment for an employee's home office, but there are no clear-cut rules regarding what an employer must provide, said Linda Batiste, principal consultant with the Job Accommodation Network in Morgantown, West Virginia.
She recommends employers provide telecommuting workers with equipment that they need to do their jobs efficiently and confidentially, if needed. After that, it's up to the employer to decide whether to provide furnishings that accommodate a worker's disability.
“If there's something that the employee's using that is specifically for work, like maybe a dedicated phone line to make work-related calls or an Internet system that is confidential and meets the needs of the employer ... that's a little clearer than (providing) a chair if a person has a back condition,” Ms. Batiste said.
No matter what, employers should be prepared to provide some equipment for telecommuting workers who are recovering from a disability, she said.
“You can't say, "We're not giving you anything. Just go to your house and buy your own equipment,'” she said.
In the wake of a federal court ruling that telecommuting is a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act, experts say employers should evaluate their work-from-home policies to determine how to handle disabled workers' requests.