In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Public Utility Loses Appeal Over Lawyer's Telecommuting

With a name like hers, and a case that instructive, in house lawyers will likely be writing celebratory ballads (or maybe just limericks) about Andrea J. Mosby-Meachem for generations to come. That's because she's an in house public utility lawyer who sued, and won, after being denied temporary work from home due to a disability.

In house lawyers are a much more creative bunch than they often get credit for (proof). And while winning a verdict doesn't automatically turn a plaintiff into a legend worthy of lofty prose, when a plaintiff wins on appeal and has a rhyme-worthy name, the limericks really just write themselves:

There once was a lawyer named Andrea Mosby-Meachem,
Who was denied reasonable accommodation,
Although she could work,
Her boss was a jerk,
But she sued and she won, despite said boss's condemnation.

Maybe the in house decision makers should remember that one. (The result, not the limerick.)

The Necessity of Being In Office

For those workers, including lawyers, who spend 100% of their work day in front of a computer screen, working from home would seem to be an easy benefit for employers to offer. So long as productivity and results do not suffer, forcing employees to come into the office when they can work as effectively from home often does not make sense.

For employees, telecommuting saves time and money, and can also reap untold rewards for increasing job satisfaction. Allowing it shows trust, which instills confidence, which makes employees feel good, which makes them want to do better work. Positive reinforcement is powerful.

However, it is not uncommon for employers to require that employees be present in office for certain hours regardless of whether they really need to be there. For many bosses, it's about that all important team building and cooperation. But for many other bosses, it's about control.

Reasonable Accommodation

For in house managers, the big lesson to learn from the Mosby-Meachem v. Memphis case is to just grant an employee's reasonable accommodation request to work from home if they can actually perform their job from home.

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