From the desk of Linda Carter Batiste, J.D., Principal Consultant
One of the questions JAN frequently gets is whether the ADA requires employers to provide accommodations for an employee with a disability who has trouble getting to and from work because of his disability. A related question is whether it makes any difference if the employee’s only disability-related problem is his commute to work; he does not have any problem performing his job once he gets to work.
The answer to the first question is yes, there are some accommodations that employers must consider related to commuting problems and the answer to the second question is no, it does not matter that the employee is able to fully perform his job without the need for accommodations once he gets to work.
According to informal guidance from the ADA Policy Division of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while employers do not have to actually transport an employee with a disability to and from work (unless the employer provides employee transportation to and from work as a perk of employment), employers may have to provide other accommodations such as changing an employee’s schedule so he can access available transportation, reassigning an employee to a location closer to his home when the length of the commute is the problem, or allowing an employee to telecommute.
The underlying reason why employers may have to provide such accommodations is that the employer typically controls employee schedules and work locations so when a schedule or work location poses a barrier to an employee with a disability, the employer must consider reasonable accommodation to overcome the barrier. As with any accommodation under the ADA, when considering accommodations related to commuting to and from work, employers can choose among effective accommodation options and do not have to provide an accommodation that poses an undue hardship.