Increasingly, attention is being paid to “technology addiction,” as Fox News reports this morning that a Rutgers University management professor believes employers will be facing lawsuits from employees who blame those employers for creating such an addiction. According to the article:
Addiction to technology — blamed by critics on the seeming ubiquity of portable e-mail devices, smartphones, cellphones and laptops, coupled with long working hours — is hardly a new phenomenon.
But Porter argues litigation could be the next step, as employees seek redress for technology dependence.
While the viability of such a suit is questionable, I believe that this concept of “technology addiction” raises another question – accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA requires reasonable accommodations of disabilities, and addiction (even technology addiction) could be considered a disability. The good news is that it may be difficult if not impossible to accommodate reasonably a technology addiction, without placing an undue burden on the employer. For example, if an employee claims a technology addiction and requires as an accommodation that he or she not be forced to use technology, most employers in the modern workplace would face an undue burden from (and be relieved of the duty to accommodate) such a request.
Will technology addiction lead to these types of claims? We will see.