APPLIES ONLY IF:
One meets the definition of a disabled
individual who is a qualified individual with a
disability who can perform the essential
functions of the job with or without
accommodation or who can perform another
available job to which he/she can be
Is considered disabled by the employer, or
Has a history of a disability.
Provide a reasonable accommodation to the
known physical or mental limitations of a
qualified applicant or employee with a
disability unless it can show that the
accommodation would impose an undue
hardship on the business.
INJURIES AND CONDITIONS
Where or how an individual became disabled
is not relevant to the agency’s requirement to
Barnett v. Postmaster General, EEOC
Any modification or adjustment to a job, an
employment practice, or the work
environment that makes it possible for an
individual with a disability to enjoy an equal
Must provide reasonable accommodation to
all aspects of employment.
This duty is ongoing and may arise any time
that a person’s disability or job changes.
Under the Rehabilitation Act if an agency
makes a “good faith effort” to provide
reasonable accommodation, no
compensatory damages will be available. A
good faith effort requires the agency consult
with the complainant, but takes into account
that the accommodation provided fell short of
what was legally required.
EMPLOYER CAN NOT DENY
An employment opportunity to a qualified
applicant or employee because of the need to
provide reasonable accommodation, unless it
would cause an undue hardship.
NOT HAVE TO MAKE
To an individual otherwise not qualified for a
To provide an accommodation that is
primarily for personal use unless the item
was specifically designed or required to meet
job-related rather than personal needs.
EMPLOYER MAY GO BEYOND
The Rehabilitation Acts requirements for
certain adjustments and modifications to
meet the reasonable accommodation
obligation do not prevent an employer from
providing accommodations beyond those
required by the Act. Caveat: In federal
government certain expenditures are not
allowed unless required by law.
Generally, individual with a disability must
make a request for reasonable
accommodation. Such request; however,
does not have to use the term “reasonable
CAN REFUSE ACCOMMODATION
A qualified individual with a disability has the
right to refuse an accommodation. However,
it the individual cannot perform the essential
functions of the job without the
accommodation, he/she may not be qualified
for the job.
IF UNDUE BURDEN:
If the cost of the accommodation would
impose an undue burden on the employer,
the individual with a disability should be given
the option of providing the accommodation or
paying that portion of the cost which would
constitute the undue hardship.
An undue hardship is an action that requires
“significant difficulty or expense” in relation to
the size of the employer, the resources
available and the nature of the operation.
SIGNIFICANT DIFFICULTY OR
Includes any action that is:
would fundamentally alter the nature or
operation of the business
Would the accommodation impact on the ability of
other employees to perform their duties or on the
facility’s ability to conduct business?
Hardship does not include a negative impact on
“morale” of other employees.
Hardship determinations are not made in relation to
the employee’s salary or wage.
Collective bargaining agreement may be relevant in
determining whether an accommodation would
impose an undue hardship.
EXAMPLES OF REASONABLE
Making a facility readily accessible to and
usable by an individual with a disability.
Restructuring a job by reallocating or
redistributing marginal functions.
Altering when or how an essential job
function is performed.
Part-time or modified work schedules.
Obtaining or modifying equipment or devices.
Modifying examination, training materials or policies.
Providing qualified readers and interpreters.
Reassignment to a vacant position.
Permitting use of accrued paid leave or unpaid
leave for necessary treatment.
Providing reserved parking for a person with mobility
Allowing an employee to provide equipment or
devices that an employer is not required to provide.
MUST TAKE INTO
The specific abilities and functional limitations
of the particular applicant or employee with a
The specific functional requirements of a
The accommodation must be effective for the
individual who is to be accommodated.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation
Individual Assessment Must Be Made
Process for employer
1. Look at the particular job involved
2. Determine what is its purpose and essential
3. Consult with individual to ascertain his/her
specific physical or mental abilities and limitations
4. In consultation with individual identify potential
accommodations and assess how effective each
5. Consider the preference of the individual
6. Select the accommodation which best
serves the needs of the individual and the
If the applicant or employee requests an
accommodation and the need for the
accommodation is not obvious, or if the employer
does not believe that the accommodation is needed,
the employer may request documentation of the
individual’s functional limitations to support the
It is not sufficient for the complainant to provide
medical evidence that merely establishes the
existence of a condition. The medical evidence must
relate that condition to the performance of job duties
involved. It is insufficient for the medical evidence
just to state the condition limits a major life activity.
Employee is not insulated from discipline for
misconduct where the same or similar
misconduct by an employee who is not
disabled would result in discipline.
Gibson v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs,
EEOC 02920018 (1993)
LIMITED OR LIGHT DUTY
When a complainant performs a “ set of miscellaneous tasks”
that is not a permanent position, the agency is not required to
permanently assign those tasks as a reassignment position. An
agency is not required to create a position to fit the complainant’s
medical restrictions. The agency is only required to reassign the
complainant to a vacant position (funded) for which the
complainant is qualified.
Saul v. Postmaster General, EEOC 01970693 (2001)
To the extent the agency created a limited duty for an employee
while that employee was receiving workers’ compensation
benefits, it is not required to continue that position as a
reasonable accommodation once compensation benefits are
Light-Burks v. Postmaster General, EEOC 01956422 (1998)
Is designed to restructure the job so that the
disabled employee can perform the essential
functions of the job—not eliminate the
ASSIGNMENT TO NEW
Request usually comes in harassment complaints.
With few exceptions, these requests have not been
found to be reasonable accommodations.
Principal problem is presenting persuasive medical
evidence that isolates the supervisor as the source
of the problem and demonstrating that the employee
could perform the essential functions of the position
under a different supervisor.
EEOC Technical Assistance Manual categorically
states that reassignment to a new supervisor is not
required as reasonable accommodation.
In Day v. Secretary of the Army, EEOC 03910078
(1991), the Commission noted there was no
persuasive medical evidence. It rejected the
complainant’s psychiatrist’s opinion because he had
never met the supervisors or observed the
complainant in her work environment.
Problem-- because agency will likely be
unwilling to permit an employee’s psychiatrist to
interview the supervisors or to directly observe
performance and interactions.
Joe is an individual who uses a wheelchair.
He would like to apply for a job with XYZ
Agency. XYZ’s personnel office is located in
an old building that does not have ramps.
Would XYZ be responsible for making a
reasonable accommodation? What are
examples of the kinds of accommodations
XYZ could make in this case?
Mike is a disabled employee who is an
auditor. He can perform all essential
functions of his auditing job, but in addition to
auditing he has been asked to teach a class
on auditing for the agency. He can not
perform this additional duty without a further
accommodation. Does the agency have to
make the further accommodation?
XYZ Agency is having a Christmas party at a
local restaurant. The specialty of the house is
a flaming dish called qua-qua. Because of the
danger of fire , the restaurant seats all
individuals who use oxygen tanks outside.
The agency’s party is inside and Mary wants
to attend, but she uses an oxygen tank. Does
the agency have to make an
Mary is a deputy sheriff. She developed a
shoulder impairment which limits her ability to
fire a shotgun. All deputies are required to be
certified on the shotgun in order to be
available in the event of an emergency.
What, if any, accommodation does the
agency have to make?
Michael is a fish specialist with the forest service. He
has diabetes that is controlled by medication and
diet. In order to insure he does not get hypo-or
hyper-glycemia he must eat five times a day. His
diabetes is well controlled. Michael volunteers to
fight forest fires. In the forest service, contacts for
promotions and awards are made during these
events. Is the agency required to make an
accommodation? What types of accommodation can
you think of that could be made?
Melissa is right handed. She is a clerk typist
with the agency. She broke her right arm and
it is expected to take up to six months to heal
and then she will have to go through physical
therapy. What accommodation, if any, would
the agency be required to make?
Jim is a unit clerk for the agency. He suffers from a
condition which generates different aspects in his
personality (formerly known as multiple-personality
disorder). When one aspect takes over from
another, he may not remember what he was doing.
The other members of the unit are frightened by
Jim’s condition. The agency wants to fire him as a
threat to self or others. Can it do this and what kind
of accommodations might it be required to make if it
can not terminate him?
Jill is a city letter carrier with the agency. Driving home from work
one day she was involved in a terrible auto accident which left her
with damage to her cognitive abilities. She has gradually improve
over the last year and is ready to return to work, but she will never
fully regain her prior abilities. She can perform all the essential
functions of her job except driving without accommodation. Her
physician has indicated she can drive if the agency will install a
knob on the steering wheel. The agency has responded that the
Department of Transportation Regulations prohibit them from
modifying the vehicle in this manner. Is Jill an individual with a
disability and a qualified individual with a disability? Is driving an
essential function of the job? Can an accommodation be made? If
DOT does have such a rule must the agency give Jill a knob as an
accommodation? What are examples of other possible
Stan has a drinking problem. He came back
from lunch smelling of alcohol and slurring his
speech. While working that afternoon, he
made a significant error in calculating the
number of widgets the agency would need for
the next few months. The supervisor caught
the error. Is Stan an individual with a
disability? Is he a QUID? If he is, what is the
first step the agency must take?
Ellen suddenly gets up and punches her supervisor,
Larry, in the jaw. She has previously informed the
agency that she feels she is being harassed and
that she is under the care of a physician for
depression. Is the complainant a disabled
individual? Is she a QUID? Does the agency have to
make accommodation? Can the agency discipline
Adams v. Alderman, 723 F. Supp. 1531 (D.D.C.
Joan is a clerk with the agency. She has asthma and is
frequently absent from her job. Is Joan a qualified individual with
If so, when does Joan’s inability to be present at work become an
undue hardship for the agency?
Must complainant prove agency knew the absences were due to the
Must employee prove a nexus between the absences and the
disability? Must agency tolerate chronic absenteeism, particularly
when that absenteeism is without notice?
Fernandez v. Secretary of the Treasury, EEOC 03940025 (1994)
LaMagra v. Secretary of Defense, EEOC 01990577 (2001)
Wiley v. Postmaster General, EEOC 07A20105 (2003).
Charles has a substantial limitation to his
major life function of seeing. In order to
perform the essential functions of his job, he
needs eyeglasses. He requests the agency
provide these. Does the agency have to
provide the complainant with eyeglasses?
What would change your answer?
Margo informs her supervisor that she needs help
because she is being tardy. She states she has a
medical condition which prevents her from arriving
at work on time on occasions. Because of the nature
of the condition, she does not know when the
condition may cause her to be tardy. Has Margo
requested a reasonable accommodation? Can the
agency request medical documentation? What
information would that documentation need to
Gregg is a long distance truck driver with the
agency. He has a medical condition which prevents
him from being certified by the Department of
Transportation to drive large trucks. He asks the
agency to accommodate his condition by providing
him with a driver. Is this a reasonable
accommodation? What kind of accommodation
might be reasonable if providing him with a driver is
not a reasonable accommodation?
When Eileen finished her military service, she received a 20%
disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs. She had
injured her knee in a parachute jump. She began work for the
agency shortly thereafter. When she began working for the agency,
she was in training for a 15K walk. She did that walk and others for a
number of years. Over the years, Eileen’s knee deteriorated and she
eventually had to have knee surgery. The surgery did not go well
and she was left with limitations for walking more than 1hour a day,
no squatting, no climbing stairs and standing no more than 15
minutes at a time. Eileen must walk for approximately 25 minutes
from the parking lot in the morning and in the evening to get to and
from work. Claim representatives such as Eileen are expected to
obtain there own supplies from the main supply storage area of the
agency. It is on a different floor than her work and would require her
to stand and walk for approximately 20 minutes each time she
Was Eileen disabled under the Rehabilitation Act at
the time she was hired?
Did she become disabled?
Is obtaining supplies an essential function of her
If so, is she a QUID?
If she is a QUID, what accommodation can the
If she is not, is the agency obligated to make an
accommodation and what kind of accommodation
might it make?
In 1997, Edward was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He
underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He has been
cancer free since 2001. He must still see his physicians once
every three months and occasionally has days when he does not
have much energy. Because the cancer he had is rare, he is also
involved in studies to learn more about the disease and is absent
for experiments by physicians and pharmaceutical companies.
His supervisor constantly asks if he will need to be absent
because of his medical condition and suggests that Edward
should take disability retirement so that someone with more
energy can take his position. Is Edward an individual with a
disability? Is the agency considering him to be disabled? Does
he have a history of a disability? If so, does the agency have to
accommodate his condition?
Andrew has been caught sleeping on the job. He
tells the agency he can not help it. He has seen a
number of doctors in an attempt to ascertain why he
is falling asleep. Prior to any diagnosis, the agency
terminates him from his position. It has a policy of
terminating all employees found sleeping on the job
and has been consistent in doing so. Is the
complainant an individual with a disability? If so, is
he a QUID? Has the agency violated the
Rehabilitation Act by terminating him?
Jenny was injured on the job. Workers Compensation required
the agency to provide her work during her compensation period.
This year Workers Compensation found her condition no longer
was eligible for coverage. Jenny had been working answering
phones, taking messages and compiling data on how often
customers are dissatisfied with the agency’s service. Although
Workers Compensation no longer finds her eligible for benefits,
the complainant’s physician has provided evidence that she still
has limitations due to an off the job condition. Jenny asks for a
reasonable accommodation of being left in the duties she has
been performing while on Workers Compensation. If she can not
remain in that job, she requests reassignment to another job.
What are the issues in this case?
Jeff is severely sight impaired. He has been paying a reader to
accompany him to work and read for him. A new manager comes
into the office and recognizes that the agency has not reasonably
accommodated Jeff. The manager decides that the agency
should provide Jeff with a machine that reads correspondence.
The reason the machine is selected is that Jeff has access to
classified information and it is difficult to get security clearances
for readers because they do not stay long because of the pay.
Jeff objects to the machine because it will not read some of his
correspondence and it can not help with other duties such as
filing. He rejects the agency’s proffer of the accommodation. Has
the agency met its duty of reasonable accommodation? If not,
would its efforts be a good faith attempt at accommodation?
Would any accommodation be disruptive or fundamentally
change the nature of the job? Should the agency allow the
complainant to continue to pay a reader as an accommodation?
Mac has become disabled while working for
XYZ Agency. He can no longer do the
essential duties of his job with or without
accommodation. The only job within the
agency Mac has the physical ability to do is
the help desk portion of a computer specialist
job. What additional information would be
needed to determine if Mac could be
transferred to that job?