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Could Yahoo's axe on telecommuting cause legal issues for company?

Most people in Indiana, and throughout the nation, see telecommuting as an invaluable asset; and after the recent snowstorms in the Midwest, this couldn't be closer to the truth. Many people see it as an opportunity to get all of their work done without the distractions that often times are associated with a noisy office area. While most people see telecommuting as a pro, others see it as a detriment to how the workforce functions.

At least that's what Yahoo's Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer seemed to suggest to employees this month after announcing that the company would be axing its remote-working program.

According to the letter sent to Yahoo employees, "some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu meetings;" something, CEO Marissa Mayer says cannot be done if people are working from home. That's why, starting in June, all employees will be required to work in Yahoo offices instead of at home.

But could this decision put Yahoo in a difficult legal situation? Could workers who telecommute because of reasonable accommodations now sue on grounds of disability discrimination? Some could argue yes.

As readers of our blog may remember from an earlier February post, people have sued their employers in the past for failing to accommodate their disabilities. Hearing disabilities that prevent a person from hearing completely from both ears could prevent a considerable problem when in a noisy office building. And especially if Yahoo is requiring all of their workers to be present in the office at one time, this could create an environment that would set people with hearing disabilities up for failure.

Although it appears that no one has filed suit at this time, Yahoo's blanket statement to get rid of all telecommuting access could cause unforeseen legal problems down the road if people feel that they are being held back from doing their job to the fullest extent.

Source: The Kansas City Star, "Telecommuting: Working from home getting new scrutiny," Diane Stafford, Mar. 5, 2013

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