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A request such as this would not indicate to the employer that the employee suffers from a physical or mental condition and needs an accommodation to perform the essential job functions of his or her position.
In this type of case, whether to provide the sit-stand desk is likely within the employer’s discretion.
Studies show that actual movement, as opposed to simply replacing sitting with standing, is likely to have more long-term beneficial effects, without causing the collateral harm to the back, legs, and feet that comes with prolonged standing.
The standing desk trend is not likely to disappear in the near future.
Employers may want to consider these requests with the same diligence as any other request for accommodation, and if granted, review them on an ongoing basis to ensure that they accomplish the goal of better enabling the employee to perform all of his or her essential job functions. Williams represents a wide range of companies in all aspects of employment law, including both litigation and advice work. Williams’s practice includes representing clients in state and federal courts and before various administrative agencies, including charges of discrimination brought by students before the Department of Education.
She has extensive experience with employment litigation matters including employment discrimination, sexual and other harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, whistleblowing, wage and hour litigation, restrictive covenants...
When it does not, then the employer may be justified in exploring other accommodations as part of the interactive process.
A possible alternative solution may to be allow the employee to take frequent, brief standing and walking breaks throughout the day.
The bigger question for many employers is whether the modified workstation would hinder the employee’s ability to perform certain job functions.This could include requesting information from the employee or the healthcare provider explaining precisely what accommodations are necessary (standing for long periods of time, alternating between sitting and standing, etc.) and how they are expected to improve the employee’s ability to perform his or her essential job functions.The employer would also want to consider whether providing the requested accommodation would pose an undue hardship.Although modifying an employee’s desk may allow him or her to work with less pain or discomfort related to a physical condition, that same modification may make it significantly more difficult for certain employees to do their jobs.This is particularly true in the case of an employee whose job requires concentration and focus or regular use of fine motor skills.
In 2013, the American Medical Association adopted a policy against sedentary behavior and encouraged employers to offer their employees fitness balls and standing workstations in order to promote a healthier work environment.