Yahoo! has a new no-telecommuting rule. Here's why it may be unlawful.

February 25, 2013
By Eric B. Meyer on February 25, 2013 7:00 AM | | Comments

yahoologo.jpgOver the weekend, I read this article from Kara Swisher on AllThingsD.com, in which she reports that Yahoo!, under its new leadership, will implement a no-telecommuting rule, effective June 1.

Ms. Swisher posted a copy of the internal Yahoo! memorandum to its employees, in which the company underscores the "critical" need to be at the office versus working form home where "speed and quality are often compromised."

Sounds good in theory. But I have a little monkey-wrench.

How about the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Under the ADA, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to disabled employees where doing so will allow them to perform the essential functions of their job. As I've written here before, telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability.

How can a business determine whether telecommuting is a reasonable accommodation? Well, it all begins with an individualized assessment of the employee and an interactive dialogue to discuss whether telecommuting is reasonable under the particular facts and circumstances affecting the employee. Conversely, generalizations and other other inflexible attendance rules, have gotten other employers into trouble.

Maybe Yahoo! has a reasonable-accommodation policy that will trump its new edict. Otherwise, its new rule may be a recipe for disaster.

For more on telecommuting as a reasonable accommodation, check out this EEOC resource.