A Memphis Light, Gas, & Water (MLGW) in-house attorney filed suit against MLGWfor equitable relief based on lost pay and her forced use of sick leave time when her request to telecommute was denied.
The attorney submitted an official accommodation request to be permitted to work either from within the hospital or within her home for 10 weeks. Memphis Light, Gas, & Water denied her request to work from home for 10 weeks while she was on bedrest due to complications from pregnancy. The request was denied, in part, because the company asserted that her presence in the office was an essential job function. As an in-house attorney, her work focused primarily on the areas of labor, employment and workers’ compensation, tasks she contended could be adequately performed on a telework basis. From the time she submitted her request until she received the denial letter (and subsequent appeals), she continued to perform her work remotely, and no one from the company told her to stop. She had previously worked from home and appeared to have adequately performed her duties to MLGW’s satisfaction.
The Sixth Circuit affirmed a jury verdict for the in-house lawyer, including $92,000.00 in compensatory damages and $18,184.32 in backpay. The court holds the jury could have found the employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (and state law) duty to accommodate, by failing to allow a ten-week period of telecommuting during the lawyer’s pregnancy bedrest.
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