An issue overlooked by many federal agencies is their obligation under EEOC regulations to cover the expenses of certain medical evaluations for job applicants. This responsibility is particularly significant in roles demanding extensive physical exertion, such as law enforcement and other similar positions. Many federal agencies have either misunderstood or haven’t adequately updated their policies, … Read more
Every day, federal employees across the country (and the world) strive to balance their work responsibilities with their personal health conditions. When health issues affect one’s ability to work in a traditional office environment, reasonable accommodations can make all the difference. However, what options does an employee have when these accommodations are not provided, and … Read more
The Agency DRAD (Disability Reasonable Accommodation Division) and other RACs (Reasonable Accommodation Coordinators or Committees) for federal employees are responsible for ensuring that employees with disabilities are provided with reasonable accommodations to perform their job duties. Their job is generally, at least on paper, to work with employees and their supervisors to identify what accommodations … Read more
The road to unlawful disability discrimination is paved with “good intentions.” Many federal agency lawyers (and therefore everyone else listening to them) mistakenly believe that discrimination requires in every case proof of discriminatory intent. That means if management denies any discriminatory intent, there is no discrimination (absent other evidence). That also means that if you … Read more
Most federal agencies have difficulty dealing with reasonable accommodations because, well, they just don’t understand it. Many managers, HR, and EEO personnel are familiar with the concept of discrimination—at least insofar as they can avoid a charge of discrimination by having (and documenting) a “legitimate, non-discriminatory reason” for their actions. But this does not apply … Read more
I speak with many federal employees whose management has recently added “essential functions” to their job descriptions solely to avoid providing reasonable accommodations. This can amount to discrimination if the Agency denies a reasonable accommodation because of a “fake” essential function. Frequently these arise in telework situations. I call them fake here because they don’t … Read more
Too often federal employees call me with issues about getting what are otherwise very reasonable disability accommodations from their supervisors. The problem is that federal agency managers are normally trained to treat all employees the same. That works for many situations, but not for reasonable accommodations. Under the ADA, treating everyone the same can actually … Read more
Many employers, particularly federal law enforcement, have medical standards that they use to disqualify potential employees. An employer generally may disqualify an employee if either it believes he cannot perform the essential functions of the job, or he would pose a “direct threat.” But federal agency employers often go well beyond this. Frequently federal employers employ various tests that prevent the hiring of people with minor health issues. Unfortunately, this means that persons are told they cannot work for relatively minor health issues. Well, that’s discrimination. And too many federal agencies stand by and let it happen.
The EEOC has held on numerous occasions that telework, even 100% telework, is a reasonable accommodation. Forcing an employee to take leave is not a reasonable accommodation unless there is no other effective accommodation such as teleworking.
Reasonable accommodations are the way that persons with disabilities are able to enjoy the same rights to work as any other individual. They are the bridge between what the person with a disability can do and what they could do on equal footing with all other persons. The accommodation levels the playing field so that … Read more