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Law professor: Employers likely don’t have to offer work from home post-pandemic

Posted at 10:09 PM, Apr 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 00:11:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As more people get vaccinated, the conversations about heading back to work are on the forefront for many Utahns.

For the most part, if the employer wants the employee to come back to the office, the employee will likely have to, according to a University of Utah law professor.

“It really is going to depend on if the employee has a disability as defined by the ADA," Professor Teneille Brown said. "If they don’t have an ADA disability, then they may want to look for other work where they are able to work from home — where it is in the job description where they can work from home."

READ: Salt Lake Chamber looks to future of the workplace

There could be lawsuits from employers, but Brown says whether they could win is a different story.

“It is possible that courts may interpret these differently now in light of the pandemic. I think it’s not just that it is possible — because it has been possible for a long time — it is people have really gotten used to it and they have realized you can collaborate online, you can have meetings online,” she said.

READ: Some Utah businesses will require employees to get vaccinated

People should start having conversations with their employer now if they hope to continue working at home, Brown said.

“They should put it in writing and ask for an accommodation," she said. "Even if they don’t have a disability, they can still ask the employer for an accommodation. The employer can grant it to them if it makes sense — maybe it makes sense to have more of their employers working from home."