As Colorado businesses bring workers back, do you have the right to stay home?

Attorney weighs in on legal basis to work from home
Empty office
Posted at 3:36 PM, May 06, 2021

As more businesses move to bring back workers from their year-long work-from-home arrangements, employees may be wondering if they have a right to stay home.

Denver employment discrimination and civil rights attorney Iris Halpern said, from a legal standpoint, workers may not have much of a case, even amid an ongoing pandemic.

“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers were required to the best of their abilities to accommodate employees who might have had underlying health conditions that if they then ended up being subjected to the coronavirus, would lead to more dire consequences,” Halpern said.

That said, the range of employees requiring accommodations did expand during the pandemic. Last year, the Colorado Civil Rights Division issued new guidance for employers to accommodate workers who were caring for children, or if they had high-risk family members at home.

Halpern said those conditions may continue to provide some legal basis for working from home. Another consideration would be a health issue that precludes someone from being vaccinated.

For those who simply prefer working at home, which surveys have found is a large number of Americans, the better option may be just talking to your employer and HR manager.

“I imagine that they will be fairly flexible. I think people have gotten used to their employees working from home for more than a year, and I think you're going to see that employers are not necessarily adverse to these hybrid models,” Halpern said.