Your Right to Reasonable Accommodations as a Federal Employee
One of the most common forms of disability discrimination is a failure or refusal to provide reasonable accommodations. If you live with a disability, your federal agency is obligated to explore reasonable accommodations that will assist you in better performing your job responsibilities. The specific accommodations will depend on the nature and extent of your disability.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include:
- Additional training and guidance
- Reliable and periodic breaks
- Wheelchair ramps and access points
- Interpreters for the hearing-impaired
- Readers for the visually impaired
- Telecommuting or working from home
- Thorough schedules for task completion and time blocking
- Flexible or adjusted work schedules
- Accessible parking spaces
- Modified workstations, including enhanced ergonomic features or desks at adjusted heights
- Reassignment to an available position more conducive to your abilities
Generally, a federal agency is required to implement reasonable accommodations if doing so will assist the disabled employee in doing their job. However, a federal agency – or any employer – does not necessarily have to provide an accommodation if doing so represents an “undue hardship.” This factor is measured by cost and potential disruption to the workplace and will depend on an agency’s size, available resources, and other mitigating factors.
In some situations, a federal agency may improperly claim that a perfectly reasonable accommodation represents an undue hardship. Our legal team can help negotiate with employers and enforce your rights. We can also assist you if you have been terminated or otherwise retaliated against for requesting a reasonable accommodation.
How Requesting Reasonable Accommodations Works as a Federal Employee
Though you are afforded rights to reasonable accommodations as a federal employee, the act of formally requesting, negotiating, and enacting these changes can be difficult, especially if you face initial resistance. Our legal team has an extensive knowledge of the relevant laws and can help assert your rights.
Our Tampa Bay Area disability discrimination attorneys can guide you through each step of the process, including:
- Identifying the qualifying disability. If you are only seeking reasonable accommodations, you will only need to establish that your condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA. You will need to demonstrate that you can more readily perform your job responsibilities if you are reasonably accommodated.
- Initiating the reasonable accommodations request. Next, you will need to inform your agency’s management team that you have a disability and are requesting accommodation. This notification does not necessarily need to be formal if your supervisors are cooperative. If you face any pushback, you will likely need to submit one or more forms. An agency has the right to request a certain level of medical proof, but we can step in and protect your rights should they overstep and request more than is necessary.
- The Interactive Process. The “Interactive Process” refers to the discussions and negotiations involved between you, your agency’s management team, and the Equal Employment Opportunity officer assigned to your agency. All parties will attempt to find an accommodation plan that is fair and reasonable.
- Contesting undue hardship claims. In most cases, the Interactive Process will yield one or more accommodations that will enable you to continue working in your current position. Both public and private employers have the right to claim that any given accommodation represents an undue hardship, but the federal government generally has the resources and means to find an agreeable solution. Should you struggle to make progress in your case, you may be the victim of discriminatory behavior. We can help you explore filing a complaint with the EEOC.