WHEN AN ORDER TO TELEWORK VIOLATES LAW
While the Telework Act clearly prohibits agencies from ordering employees to participate in telework, that is not the only liability an agency has if it orders an employee to work from home. EEOC pointed that out in Levi S. v. Dep’t of the Navy, EEOC Appeal No. 0120151301 (November 25, 2015). In that case management ordered an employee to work from home because of its concerns about his repeated physical seizures which it said scared others and made them uneasy. When the agency argued that an order to telework was not an adverse employment action, the EEOC wrote, “We find that the change in Complainant’s work location described in his complaint constitutes a viable allegation of harm to a term, condition or privilege of Complainant’s employment.” Unlike an alleged violation of the Telework Act prohibition against forcing employees to telework, a violation of the civil rights laws would make the employee eligible for tens of thousands in damages, not to mention back pay and attorney fees.