There’s No Place Like Work: How Modern Technology Is Changing the Judiciary’s Approach to Work-at-Home Arrangements as an ADA Accommodation

Benjamin D. Johnson *

In 1973, Jack Nilles, a researcher with the University of Southern California, coined the term “teleworking.”[1] His idea was to create a more flexible communication system for employees, reduce the need for transportation, and ultimately decentralize the traditional workplace.[2] Six years later, Marvin Minsky, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“MIT”), first used the term “telepresence.”[3] Minsky sought to create a phenomenon whereby people could use technology to replicate their presence in an environment where they were not physically present.[4]

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* J.D. Candidate, 2016, University of Richmond School of Law. A.B., 2012, University of Georgia. I would like to thank the University of Richmond Law Review editorial staff for their diligent work that made this article possible. I would also like to thank my parents and my sister who each helped to instill in me a love for writing and are a constant source of encouragement in all of my pursuits. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Sarah, whose unwavering love and support keeps me motivated daily.

        [1].    Biography of Jack Nilles, JALA Int’l, (last modified Sept. 26, 2011).

        [2].    See Jennifer Mears, Father of Telecommuting Jack Nilles Says Security, Managing Remote Workers Remain Big Hurdles, Network World (May 15, 2007, 1:00 AM),–managing-remote-workers-remain-big-hurd.html (quoting Jack Nilles’ initial thoughts about telecommuting and his perceptions on how his ideas contrasted with those of the “business world”).

        [3].    Wijnand A. IJsselsteijn, History of Telepresence, in 3D Videocommunication: Algorithms, Concepts, and Real-Time Systems in Human Centred Communication 7, 7 (Oliver Schreer, Peter Kauff & Thomas Sikora eds., 2005).

        [4].    See id. (“[Telepresence] refers to the phenomenon that a human operator develops a sense of being physically present at a remote location through interaction with the system’s human interface, that is, through the user’s actions and the subsequent perceptual feedback he/she receives via the appropriate teleoperation technology.”).