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Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and
Management (OASAM)

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR MANUAL SERIES

DLMS 4 - PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

DATE: December 5, 2005

DEPARTMENTAL    X   

OASAM ___

MANUAL TRANSMITTAL ___

Chapter Reference: Chapter 306 — Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants With Disabilities

Nature of Revisions: This policy implements Executive Order 13164, dated July 26, 2000 and will replace the Department of Labor Supplement (DLS) Appendix G, Chapter 306 Selective Placement Programs previously maintained under the old DLS structure.

These procedures implement Executive Order 13164 which instructs Federal agencies, including the Department of Labor (DOL), to “establish effective written procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodation by employees and applicants with disabilities.” These procedures supersede all other prior DOL policies on reasonable accommodation.

Approval for Issuance and Distribution:

PATRICK PIZZELLA
Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management

PARAGRAPH

CONTENTS

306

Procedures Governing the Provision of Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities

307

Purpose

308

Policy

309

Explanation of Key Terms Used in These Procedures

310

Responsibilities of Participants in the Reasonable Accommodation Process

311

Requesting an Accommodation

312

Processing Employee Accommodation Requests Other Than Parking and Building Facilities Changes

313

Accommodation Requests from Applicants

314

Parking Accommodation Requests

315

Building Facility Accommodation Requests

316

Requests for Medical Documentation to Substantiate a Claim of Disability or Need for Accommodation

317

Public Health Services (PHS) Review Process

318

Requests to Applicants

319

Reassignment as a Reasonable Accommodation for Employees

320

Informal Dispute Resolution

321

Recordkeeping and Confidentiality

322

Additional Resources

Appendix A

Employee or Applicant Confirmation of Request for Reasonable Accommodation (MS Word)

Appendix B

Agency Report of Request for Reasonable Accommodation (MS Word)

Appendix C

Application for Parking Assignment for Employees with Disabilities (MS Word)

Appendix C-1

Application for Parking Assignment for Employees with Disabilities (MS Word)

Appendix D

Authorization for Limited Release of Medical Information (MS Word)

Appendix D-1

Consent for Examination (MS Word)

Appendix E

Memo (MS Word)


306 Procedures Governing the Provision of Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities

307 Purpose.These Procedures implement Executive Order 13164 (July 26, 2000), which instructs Federal agencies, including the Department of Labor (DOL), to "establish effective written procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodation by employees and applicants with disabilities." These Procedures supersede all prior DOL policies on reasonable accommodation.

Nothing in these Procedures shall be construed as creating any legal rights for DOL applicants or employees beyond the rights such persons may have under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq.) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.). These Procedures are intended to provide guidance for the implementation of the Rehabilitation Act. Failure to adhere strictly to the steps outlined within this document shall not be construed as a violation of employee rights or administrative procedures.

308 Policy

  1. Consistent with its obligations under the Rehabilitation Act, the DOL will provide reasonable accommodations for:
    1. Individuals with disabilities who apply for employment with the DOL;
    2. DOL employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs; and
    3. DOL employees with disabilities to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.
  2. It is DOL policy to provide a reasonable accommodation that meets both the applicant's or employee's needs that does not place an undue hardship on the DOL's programs.

309 Explanation of Key Terms Used in These Procedures

Note: This section is intended to provide, so far as possible, a "plain English" explanation of relevant legal terms that are defined in the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 705) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12111). This section is not intended to change the meanings assigned to these statutory terms. Persons seeking further explanation of these terms should consult the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's "Regulations to Implement the Equal Employment Provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act," 29 C.F.R. Part 1630.

  1. Disability — A disability is a mental or physical condition that substantially limits a person from engaging in at least one major life activity that has central importance to most people's daily lives, such as walking, seeing, or breathing.
  2. Qualified Individual with a Disability - A person who has a disability is a qualified individual with a disability if he or she is able to perform the essential functions of his or her job with or without a reasonable accommodation.
  3. Reasonable Accommodation — An accommodation is a change in the DOL's work rules, facilities, or conditions which enable a qualified individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, or enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment. An accommodation is reasonable if it is effective in producing the desired result, and balances the needs of the applicant or employee and the DOL.
  4. Undue Hardship — If a specific accommodation causes undue hardship, the DOL does not have to provide that particular accommodation. Determination of undue hardship is always made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors that include the nature and cost of the reasonable accommodation and the impact of the reasonable accommodation on the DOL's operations.
  5. Interactive Process — An interactive process is a flexible process through which the DOL and the employee or applicant with a disability, discuss the request for accommodation in a good faith effort to identify the employee's or applicant's precise limitations and reasonable accommodations.
  6. Essential FunctionsEssential functions are the fundamental job duties of the employment position the employee with a disability holds or the applicant with a disability seeks. A function can be essential if, among other things, the position exists specifically to perform that function, there are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function if it were assigned to them, or the function is specialized and the incumbent is hired based on his or her ability to perform it.
  7. Extenuating CircumstancesExtenuating circumstances are factors that could not reasonably have been anticipated or avoided in advance of the request for accommodation. When extenuating circumstances are present, the time for processing a request for reasonable accommodation and providing the necessary accommodation will be extended as reasonably necessary.

    Examples of extenuating circumstances may include: waiting to receive medical documentation from a third party; or waiting for adaptive equipment to assist the employee; or unforeseen circumstances caused by a delay in the mail system.

310 Responsibilities of Participants in the Reasonable Accommodation Process

  1. The Director, Civil Rights Center (CRC)

    The Director, CRC shall be responsible for:

    1. Providing direction and guidance on the implementation of these procedures;
    2. Developing appropriate training programs to ensure that DOL employees, supervisors, and officials are aware of, and have the skills and information necessary to comply with these procedures; and to assure that employees who need and qualify for accommodations are successfully accommodated;
    3. Participating and facilitating, as appropriate, in meetings with relevant agency personnel regarding reasonable accommodation requests;
    4. Serving as the DOL's liaison with the Public Health Service (PHS) for the purpose of obtaining independent assessments of medical information submitted in support of a request for an accommodation by an employee or applicant for employment with DOL;
    5. Reviewing all proposed decisions to deny reasonable accommodation requests or to provide alternative accommodation; reviewing all determinations to ensure that all accommodations have been exhausted prior to reassignment, and to ensure compliance with these procedures;
    6. Maintaining the DOL's reasonable accommodation hotline; and
    7. Maintaining summary statistics on accommodations by agency, as required by the EEOC.
  2. DOL Agency Heads

    The official in charge of each DOL agency shall be responsible for:

    1. Ensuring in coordination with the CRC, that the agency's supervisors and other relevant officials are informed about how to address requests in the manner set forth in these Procedures;
    2. Taking appropriate steps to ensure that the agency has adequate funding for reasonable accommodations;
    3. Designating a person within the agency who shall be responsible for making reassignment decisions pursuant to Section 319(F) of this chapter; and
    4. Designating a person within the agency who shall serve as a reviewing official for purposes of participating in the informal dispute resolution process.
  3. Agency EEO Managers

    The agency EEO Manager in each DOL agency shall be responsible for:

    1. Consulting with and advising supervisors and other appropriate officials throughout the accommodation request process to help determine whether requests for accommodations should be granted or denied;
    2. Facilitating the interactive process by bringing together supervisor, employee, implementing office(s) and other appropriate parties;
    3. Coordinating with the agency human resource specialist, the Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology (COAST), the Disability Program Manager, and other appropriate office(s) when accommodation requests are complicated by performance, conduct, or leave issues, or a worker’s compensation claim; or when an accommodation involves reallocation of tasks, revision of standards, or other adjustment ordinarily accomplished with the assistance of human resource staff;
    4. Providing statistical information on the number, nature, and disposition of accommodation requests to the CRC as requested; and
    5. Maintaining records submitted by employees or applicants in connection with accommodation requests, in a manner that complies with the confidentiality requirements of the Rehabilitation Act and the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, as amended.
  4. Supervisors

    The immediate supervisor of an employee who requests an accommodation shall be responsible for:

    1. Participating in the interactive process when the employee requests a reasonable accommodation;
    2. Reporting all requests for disability accommodation to the agency's EEO Manager;
    3. Consulting with the agency's EEO Manager and other appropriate officials in determining:
      1. Whether the requestor is a qualified individual with a disability;
      2. Whether to grant, deny, or provide an alternative to the requested accommodation; and
      3. Whether, in the case of a denial, the requested accommodation poses an undue hardship.
    4. Rendering final decisions on accommodation requests; and
    5. Documenting requests for accommodation and the action taken.
    6. Even in the absence of receiving a written request, the supervisor should acknowledge and begin to act on an oral request for reasonable accommodation within three (3) business days.
  5. Human Resource Specialists

    Each agency's human resource specialists are responsible for:

    1. Ensuring that job vacancy announcements contain appropriate notices to applicants regarding the DOL's reasonable accommodation policy, including appropriate contact information for accommodation-related matters;
    2. Handling accommodation requests from applicants during the application process and promptly notifying the agency's EEO Manager about the number, nature, and disposition of such requests;
    3. Identifying vacant positions for which an employee is qualified in cases where reassignment is being considered as a possible reasonable accommodation; and
    4. Serving as expert resources to the agency EEO Managers when accommodation requests are complicated by performance, conduct, or leave issues or a worker’s compensation claim, or when an accommodation involves reallocation of tasks, revision of standards, or other adjustment ordinarily accomplished with the assistance of human resources staff.
    5. Even in the absence of receiving a written request, the human resource specialist or other contact person should acknowledge and begin to act on an oral request for reasonable accommodation within three (3) business days.
  6. Director of Human Resources, OASAM

    The Director of Human Resources, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM), shall be responsible for:

    1. Reviewing an agency's unsuccessful attempts at intra-agency reassignments, as set forth in Section 319(G) of this chapter.
    2. Conducting inter-agency searches for possible reassignments, as set forth in Section 319(H) and (I) of this chapter; and
    3. Reassigning employees across agencies.
  7. Officials with Responsibilities for Parking and Building Related Accommodations

    The following officials are responsible for making decisions on reasonable accommodation requests regarding parking and building-related accommodations, as set forth in Sections 314 and 315 respectively, of this chapter:

    1. For the Frances Perkins Building: Director, Office of Facilities Management, Business Operations Center (BOC), Office of Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM);

    2. For the Gannett Building: Director, Office of Administration and Management (MSHA);
    3. For the Postal Square Building: Director, Division of Administrative Services (BLS); and
    4. For the Regional Offices and for any satellite (district, area, or other local) offices in the region not co-located with the Regional Office: OASAM Regional Administrator.
  8. Office of the Solicitor

    The Office of the Solicitor (SOL) shall be responsible for:

    1. Providing legal guidance to agency EEO Managers and supervisors regarding reasonable accommodation issues when requested; and
    2. Reviewing at the request of the supervisor or EEO Manager, all proposed decisions to deny reasonable accommodation requests or to provide an alternative accommodation, reviewing all determinations that all possible accommodations have been exhausted prior to reassignment, and where requested, providing legal advice regarding such decisions.
  9. Employees and Applicants with Disabilities

    An employee or applicant with a disability who desires an accommodation is responsible for:

    1. Requesting an accommodation;

    2. Completing and submitting the confirmation of request described in Sections 311(A)(3), 311(B)(2), and appearing in Appendix A;
    3. Participating in good faith with DOL officials in an interactive process to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate; and
    4. If requested, promptly providing a limited medical release and/or medical documentation from a physician or other licensed medical professional regarding the disability and need for accommodation, pursuant to Section 316 of this chapter.

311 Requesting an Accommodation

  1. Employees with Disabilities

    To request a reasonable accommodation for a disability, an employee should take the following steps:

    1. The employee should make the request orally or in writing personally, or through a family member, friend, health professional or other representative, to his or her immediate supervisor, the agency's EEO Manager, or any other supervisor in the employee's chain of command. If the request is made to someone other than the immediate supervisor, that person must promptly notify the immediate supervisor of the request. The employee does not need to use the words, “reasonable accommodation,” but may simply state in plain English that s/he needs an adjustment or change at work; or in the application process due to the nature of his/her disability.
    2. If an accommodation is needed to participate in a specific agency activity, the accommodation needs to occur in sufficient time to allow the employee requesting the accommodation to participate in the activity.
    3. Within five (5) business days after making the request, the employee must complete and submit to his or her agency EEO Manager, the confirmation of request form (see Appendix A) to these Procedures.
    4. An employee who requests an accommodation must provide information regarding:
      1. The nature, extent, and duration of the disability;
      2. How the disability impairs the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job or to enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment; and
      3. How the requested accommodation or any alternative accommodation would allow him or her to perform the essential functions of his or her job, or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of the job.
    5. In cases where the nature of the disability and the need for an accommodation are not obvious, or where the individual has not already provided the agency with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has a disability and needs an accommodation, then the employee shall promptly submit a limited medical release form and medical documentation to support the accommodation request (see Section 316 of this chapter).
    6. This information should generally be provided to the supervisor; however, where the employee has concerns regarding such disclosure, the limited medical release form and the medical documentation may be provided to the CRC for review by the PHS.
  2. Applicants with Disabilities

    To request a reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process, an applicant should take the followings steps:

    1. The applicant should make the request orally or in writing personally, or through a representative, to the human resource specialist or other contact person listed on the vacancy announcement. If the request is made to someone other than the human resource specialist or other contact person listed on the vacancy announcement, that person must promptly notify the human resource specialist or other contact person of the request.
    2. Within five (5) business days after making the request, the applicant must complete and submit to the human resource specialist or other contact person listed on the vacancy announcement the confirmation of request form found in Appendix A to these Procedures. This form will be supplied to the applicant by the office handling the vacancy announcement once s/he requests an accommodation. If the applicant with disability requires assistance with completing the form, the DOL staff member receiving the request will provide the required assistance.
    3. An applicant who requests an accommodation must provide information regarding:
      1. The nature, extent, and duration of the disability;
      2. How the disability impairs the applicant's ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job or to enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment; and
      3. How the requested accommodation or any alternative accommodation would allow the applicant to perform the essential functions of his or her job, or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of the job.
    4. Immediately after an applicant requests an accommodation pursuant to Section 311, the human resource specialist shall decide whether to grant or deny the request or to offer an alternative accommodation.
    5. In cases where the nature of the disability and the need for an accommodation are not obvious, or where the individual has not already provided the agency with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has a disability and needs an accommodation, then the applicant shall promptly submit a limited medical release form and medical documentation to support the accommodation request (see Section 316 of this chapter).
    6. The accommodation needs to occur in sufficient time to allow the applicant to participate in the application process.

312 Processing Employee Accommodation Requests Other Than Parking and Building Facilities Changes

Immediately after an employee requests an accommodation pursuant to Section 311 of this chapter, the following steps shall be taken:

  1. The supervisor shall consult with the employee and the agency EEO Manager to discuss the request. The topics of discussion in the interactive process should include:
    1. the nature, extent, and duration of the disability;
    2. how the disability impairs the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job or to enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment; and
    3. how the requested accommodation or any alternative accommodation would assist the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job or to enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment.
  2. The supervisor shall determine whether medical documentation is necessary to proceed on the accommodation request, and if such documentation is necessary, direct the employee to provide it in the manner prescribed by Section 316 of this chapter.
  3. The supervisor processing an accommodation request shall:
    1. Consult with the employee within three (3) business days of receiving an accommodation request and ask the employee to provide relevant information to support their accommodation request if the disability is not obvious, or where the individual has not already provided the agency with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has a disability and needs an accommodation. Medical information may also be requested where a previously granted accommodation was temporary in nature, or where the employee is requesting a modification or an additional accommodation.
    2. Actively engage in an interactive process with the employee. This process brings together the employee, supervisor, and EEO manager with other officials who have expertise in the specific area of accommodation.
    3. During the time in which the employee is gathering supporting documentation, the time for processing the accommodation request will be tolled (suspended).
    4. Ensure that medical and all relevant information received from the employee is promptly forwarded to the agency EEO Manager for submission to the PHS in those instances in which the supervisor is uncertain whether to grant the request or needs information about equally effective alternative accommodation options.
  4. Upon receipt of the relevant documentation from the supervisor, the agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for promptly forwarding the documentation to the CRC for submission to the PHS for an assessment.
  5. Upon receipt of the relevant documentation from the agency EEO Manager, the CRC shall promptly forward the documentation to the PHS and request that an assessment of the medical evidence be conducted within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the request.
  6. Upon receipt of the medical assessment from the PHS, the CRC shall promptly forward it to the agency EEO Manager.
  7. The agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for ensuring that the employee and supervisor receive the medical assessment provided by PHS within three (3) business days of its receipt from CRC.
  8. The supervisor shall promptly decide whether to grant or deny the request or to offer an alternative accommodation, unless extenuating circumstances are present.
  9. The supervisor shall inform the employee of the decision within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the PHS medical assessment, unless extenuating circumstances are present.
  10. The supervisor shall forward a copy of the decision to grant or deny the accommodation request to the CRC and the agency EEO Manager.
  11. The time necessary to respond to any particular request for accommodation will depend largely on the nature of that accommodation. In certain circumstances, a request for reasonable accommodation requires an expedited review. For example, when an employee needs an accommodation to attend a meeting, or agency event scheduled to occur within a few days.

    If there should be a delay in processing a reasonable accommodation request, the supervisor will assess whether there are temporary measures that can be taken to assist the individual with a disability. The supervisor shall promptly notify the employee of any unforeseen delays, or extenuating circumstances affecting the processing of the accommodation request.

  12. In making a decision on a reasonable accommodation request, the supervisor may consult with the agency EEO Manager, with SOL, or CRC if they need expert assistance. The supervisor should consider the following as part of the decision-making process:
    1. Whether the employee is a qualified individual with a disability and is thus entitled to a reasonable accommodation;
    2. Whether an accommodation is necessary to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job or to enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of the job;
    3. Whether the requested accommodation is reasonably designed to help the employee perform the essential functions of his or her job, or to enjoy equal access to the benefits and privileges of the job;
    4. Whether any alternative accommodations would help the employee perform the essential functions of his or her job or enjoy equal benefits and privileges of the job; and
    5. Whether an accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the DOL's business operations.
  13. If after considering all relevant information and going through the interactive process, including review of any medical documentation submitted pursuant to Section 316 of this chapter, the supervisor determines that the accommodation request should be granted, s/he shall promptly:
    1. Inform the employee in writing that the request will be granted and provide an estimated time frame for the implementation process;
    2. Implement the accommodation;
    3. Keep a written record of his or her decision by completing the Report of Request for Reasonable Accommodation (found in Appendix B) and provide the agency EEO Manager with a copy of the record; and
    4. Where the accommodation is likely to be needed on a recurring basis; such as a sign language interpreter, the employee need not go through the approval process on a recurring basis.
  14. If, after considering all relevant information, including any medical documentation submitted pursuant to Section 316 of this chapter, the supervisor determines that an accommodation other than the one requested by the employee should be granted, s/he shall promptly:
    1. Consult with the agency EEO Manager and with SOL, or the Counsel for OIG to ensure the decision is legally sufficient;
    2. Consult with the CRC to determine whether the actions taken are in compliance with the steps outlined in this chapter;
    3. Meet with the employee to determine whether s/he will accept the alternative accommodation;
    4. If the employee indicates that the alternative accommodation is acceptable, proceed in accordance with Section 312(M) of this chapter; and
    5. If the employee indicates that the alternative accommodation is not acceptable, proceed in accordance with Section 312(O) of this chapter.
  15. After considering all relevant information, including any medical documentation submitted pursuant to Section 316, if the supervisor determines that the requested accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the DOL, and that alternative accommodations (including reassignment) are not available, or were rejected, s/he shall promptly:
    1. Consult with the agency EEO Manager and with SOL, or the Counsel for OIG to ensure that the decision is legally sufficient;
    2. Consult with the CRC to determine whether the actions taken are in compliance with steps outlined in this chapter;
    3. Issue to the employee a written decision indicating that the request for accommodation is being denied. The decision should:
      1. Specify the reasons for the denial, including reasons why alternative accommodations would have been equally effective as that requested, or why the accommodation would be an undue hardship;
      2. Notify the employee that s/he has a right to file an EEO complaint pursuant to 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 and, where applicable, may have the right to pursue Merit Systems Protection Board and union grievance procedures;
      3. Explain the agency’s procedures available for informal dispute resolution where the employee or applicant disputes the agency decision to deny the requested accommodation (see Section 320 of this chapter); and
      4. Keep a written record of his or her decision (found in Appendix B) and provide the agency EEO Manager with a copy of the decision letter and the Agency Report of Request for Reasonable Accommodation (Appendix B).

313 Accommodation Requests from Applicants

The process set forth in Section 312(A) of this chapter shall apply to accommodation requests made by applicants, except that in the case of applicants, the agency's human resource specialists shall perform the duties that supervisors perform for employees.

314 Parking Accommodation Requests

  1. In cases where the requested accommodation relates to the use of DOL parking facilities, the immediate supervisor or human resource specialist shall direct the request to the appropriate decision-making official, as set forth below:
    1. For the Frances Perkins Building: Director, Office of Administrative Services (OASAM);
    2. For the Gannett Building: Director, Office of Administration and Management (MSHA);
    3. For the Postal Square Building: Director, Division of Administrative Services (BLS); and
    4. For the Regional Offices and for any satellite (district, area, or other local) offices in the region not co-located with the Regional Office: OASAM Regional Administrator.

    Upon receiving a parking-related accommodation request, the appropriate decision-making official shall request that the employee complete an Application for Parking Assignment for Employees with Disabilities (found in Appendix C to these Procedures). The application must be accompanied by a physician's certification form (found in Appendix C1). The employee should also complete Section 1 on the form authorizing the limited release of medical information where the need for the accommodation is not obvious, or where the individual has not already provided the agency with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has a disability and needs an accommodation.

    Parking requests will be renewed on an annual basis. When completing the parking application for renewal, it will only be necessary to have the employee’s physician re-certify that the employee’s condition has not changed in cases where the disability is not obvious, or where the individual has not already provided the agency with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has a disability and needs an accommodation. Full medical documentation will generally not be required for renewal. Parking requests are forwarded to the PHS for review as appropriate, through CRC.

    The parking decision-maker shall notify the employee in writing of his or her decision based on the PHS assessment and provide the agency EEO Manager with a copy of the record (found in Appendix B).

  2. Regional Parking Procedures
    1. In regional office buildings, where commercial or Government-owned space is available for lease for DOL employees, the regional administrator should follow national office procedures listed above. In all other situations, where the regional administrator is unclear or believes s/he is unable to grant the requested parking accommodation, the request shall be forwarded to CRC for consideration and facilitation of the request. For further guidance on parking requirements see DLMS-2, Chapter 520.
    2. In facilities where there are no Government-owned or Government-controlled parking facilities available, the DOL may pay the reasonable increased portion only of commercial parking fees for employees with disabilities, if the disabling condition requires the individuals to pay more than a de minimis amount above that generally paid by other employees working at the same facility (Decisions of the Comptroller General, 12349, March 26, 1984). Each accommodated employee with a disability must pay the usual cost of commuter parking (typically paid by others for commercial parking in that same area) and the DOL may pay the increased portion resulting from parking accessibility requirements. The DOL may request that GSA provide the necessary parking accommodations. However, the DOL may request delegation of authorities for this purpose to facilitate accounting procedures related to incremental parking payments.

315 Building Facility Accommodation Requests

  1. The procedures for processing a request that a DOL building be made more accessible shall follow Section 314 of this chapter. The OASAM Regional Administrator may work with the GSA Building Manager to address accommodations dealing with the building facility.
  2. The employee shall make such requests directly to the appropriate building facility office. The supervisor and the agency EEO Manager shall be consulted before any decision is made regarding the accommodation request.
  3. The building facility officer shall notify the employee of his or her decision and provide the agency EEO Manager with a copy of the record.
  4. For DOL employees who may be located in State government offices, requests for accommodation dealing with state building facilities should be directed to the respective state Equal Opportunity office in accordance with state procedures with a copy to the agency EEO Manager. Complaints related to building accessibility will be processed under 29 C.F.R. Part 32 which covers Federally-assisted programs receiving financial assistance.
  5. The CRC will monitor the request for accessibility and will provide the employee with feedback on the request.

316 Requests for Medical Documentation to Substantiate a Claim of Disability or Need for Accommodation

The DOL has a right to inquire into an employee's medical condition in order to determine whether an accommodation is appropriate. The DOL may not request medical information where both the disability and need for reasonable accommodation are obvious or where the individual has already provided the agency with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has a disability and needs an accommodation.

  1. If the supervisor determines that medical documentation is necessary, s/he shall instruct the employee to execute and provide a limited medical release form authorizing the PHS to review the documentation. The limited medical release form is found in Appendix D following this chapter.
  2. The employee shall promptly provide documentation prepared by a licensed medical professional explaining:
    1. the nature, extent, and duration of the disability;
    2. how the disability affects the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of his or her job or limits his or her ability to enjoy the benefits and privileges of the job; and (3) how the requested accommodation will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her job, or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of the job.
  3. This information should generally be provided to the supervisor; however, where the employee has concerns regarding such disclosure, the limited medical release form and the medical documentation may be provided to the CRC for review by the PHS.
  4. Costs related to providing medical documentation in support of the reasonable accommodation request are to be borne by the individual requesting the accommodation.
  5. An employee's failure to comply with his or her responsibilities under this section may constitute a failure to participate in good faith in the interactive process and may be a legitimate ground for denying the reasonable accommodation request.

317 Public Health Service (PHS) Review Process

  1. If the supervisor needs assistance to review and evaluate the submitted documentation, s/he must arrange through the agency EEO Manager for the CRC to request the PHS to review the documentation and communicate with the medical provider for the purpose of assessing whether the documentation supports the accommodation request.
  2. The PHS's assessment should contain only information that is relevant to the accommodation request, and the PHS should not disclose to the supervisor any medical information unrelated to the impairment for which the accommodation is required. In no case shall the employee be required to bear the expense incurred as a result of the PHS's participation in this process.
  3. If the employee submits documentation that fails to meet the requirements of Section 316(B) regarding his or her disability and/or need for accommodation, a supervisor must explain why the documentation is inadequate and request additional information from the employee. The supervisor shall explain what specific additional information is needed and how that information is necessary to make a decision. If the employee is unable to supply such information upon further request, the DOL may request that the employee be examined by the PHS or a PHS-designated physician at the DOL's expense. In such instances, the employee will be required to execute a written limited medical release form authorizing the examination. The supervisor shall explain that if the employee fails to furnish the requested additional information and refuses to authorize the examination the result could be a denial of the reasonable accommodation request (see Appendix D-1).
  4. After making a decision on the accommodation request, the supervisor shall promptly forward the employee's medical records, as well as the PHS's assessment (if any) to the agency's EEO Manager, who must then forward copies to the CRC. All medical records obtained under this section must be held by the agency EEO Manager and CRC in a manner that complies with the confidentiality provisions of the Rehabilitation Act and the Privacy Act (see Section 321).

318 Requests to Applicants

The process set forth in Section 317 of this chapter, shall apply to accommodation requests made by applicants, except that, in the case of applicants, the agency's human resource specialists shall perform the duties that supervisors perform for employees.

319 Reassignment as a Reasonable Accommodation for Employees

  1. The following rules govern the circumstances under which reassignment may be considered as a reasonable accommodation:
    1. Reassignment will be considered as a reasonable accommodation only as a last resort; after all other possible accommodations have been explored and ruled out.
    2. Reassignments will be made to vacant funded positions only. A position is considered a “vacant funded” position when a request to initiate a recruitment action (WEBPARS) has been received in the servicing Human Resources office.
    3. Employees may be reassigned only to positions for which they are qualified.
    4. Reassignment may be made to a lower-graded position if no suitable vacant funded positions are available at the employee’s grade, and the employee has indicated that s/he would consider such positions.
    5. Reassignments will not be made where they would place an undue hardship on the DOL's operations.
    6. The term "suitable position" as used in this section refers to a position that meets the criteria set forth in this subsection 319(A).
  2. The reassignment process will be triggered by the agency’s inability to provide the requested accommodation, an alternative, or the supervisor’s written assessment (reviewed by CRC and SOL) that all possible accommodations that could assist the employee in accomplishing essential job functions have been exhausted. The supervisor must also notify the agency’s EEO Manager.
  3. Upon being notified that no reasonable accommodation is available to assist the employee in performing the essential functions of his or her job, the EEO Manager shall be responsible for promptly meeting with the employee to discuss the employee's reassignment preferences. At this time, the agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for ascertaining the employee's preferences regarding possible relocation and willingness to accept a position outside his or her agency and/or beneath his or her current pay and grade. The employee will be requested to complete the Reassignment Preference Form found in Appendix E. To assist in this process, the EEO Manager shall be responsible for, in consultation with the servicing human resource office, asking the employee to submit an updated résumé, SF 171, OF 612, or equivalent form for the purpose of determining the employee's qualifications and preferences. An employee's failure to cooperate in this process could result in denial of the request for an accommodation.
  4. After obtaining relevant information from the employee, the agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for working with the servicing human resource office and, if appropriate, the OASAM, to promptly identify all vacant positions within the agency for which the employee may be qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation. The servicing human resource office will attempt to respond within fifteen (15) business days.
  5. In conducting this search, the agency must focus on positions that are equivalent to the employee's current job in terms of pay and grade and other relevant factors. The agency may consider, but is not required to consider positions outside the employee's stated preferences. An employee being reassigned to a different commuting area shall pay for his or her own relocating expenses unless, in the unusual circumstance, the agency routinely pays such expenses when granting voluntary transfers to other employees.
  6. If a suitable position at the same pay and grade is identified within the agency, the agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for notifying the supervisor of the division which has the vacancy that an offer will be extended to the employee who requested the reasonable accommodation. Thereafter, the agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for, in conjunction with the servicing human resource office, promptly offering the position to the employee. If more than one position is identified, the agency representative (see Section 310(B)(3)of this chapter), in consultation with the agency's EEO Manager, shall consider the employee's preferences and agency needs in determining which position to offer the employee. In all cases, however, the agency has the ultimate discretion to determine which position to offer the employee.
  7. If the agency EEO Manager and the servicing human resource office are unable to identify a suitable position within the agency, the agency EEO Manager shall be responsible for promptly notifying OASAM's Director of Human Resources (Director). The Director may, at his or her discretion, conduct a review of the agency's search process and may, upon finding any discrepancies or irregularities, order the agency's EEO Manager and/or the servicing human resource office to take appropriate action.
  8. If the Director accepts the agency's conclusion that no suitable position is available, s/he must notify the agency EEO Manager. If the employee is willing to consider positions outside his or her agency, the Director must determine whether any suitable positions at the same pay and grade are available throughout the DOL. If the Director locates more than one suitable position within different agencies, the Director shall have the discretion to determine which position to offer the employee.
  9. If the Director fails to locate a suitable position at the employee's same pay and grade outside the employee's agency, and if the employee is willing to accept a reassignment into a position at a lower pay and grade, then the agency's EEO Manager shall be responsible, in consultation with the servicing human resource office and OASAM, for determining whether any suitable positions are available at a lower pay and grade. This search should first focus on potential reassignments within the employee's agency, and then expand to include positions throughout the DOL. The Director retains the ultimate discretion to determine which position to offer the employee if more than one suitable position is found through this search.
  10. In cases where no suitable positions are available either within or outside the employee's agency, the employee's supervisor must proceed to deny the reasonable accommodation request in accordance with Section 312(O) of this chapter.

320 Informal Dispute Resolution

  1. An applicant or employee who is denied a reasonable accommodation or is offered an alternative accommodation may seek review of the decision by submitting a request to his or her agency EEO Manager. The agency EEO Manager will forward within three (3) business days the request to the next-level official in the decision-maker’s chain of command who was not involved in the processing of the original request. The applicant or employee must seek such review within five (5) business days of receipt of the written decision.
  2. When an applicant or employee invokes this dispute resolution process, the reviewing official shall review the available materials and either affirm or reverse the initial decision. Absent extenuating circumstances, the reviewing official should render a decision within five (5) business days of receipt of the request.
  3. If the reviewing official reverses the decision, s/he shall grant the accommodation in accordance with Section 312(M) of this chapter.
  4. If the reviewing official affirms the decision, s/he shall promptly inform the applicant or employee and the agency EEO Manager. A written response shall be provided in accordance with Section 312 (O)(3) of this chapter.
  5. This informal process does not affect the time frame for instituting proceedings under the EEO procedures set forth at 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 or any other dispute resolution process. The forty-five (45) day period during which an employee may begin proceedings under the EEO process begins on the date of the last denial letter issued.

321 Recordkeeping and Confidentiality

Under the Rehabilitation Act, medical information obtained in connection with the reasonable accommodation process must be kept confidential. This means that all medical information that DOL obtains in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation including information about functional limitations and reasonable accommodation needs, must be kept in files separate from the individual’s personnel file. It also means that any DOL employee who obtains or receives such information is strictly bound by these confidential requirements.

  1. The agency EEO Manager and CRC will maintain custody of all records obtained or created during the processing of a request for reasonable accommodation, including medical records, and will direct all requests for disclosure of the records to SOL. All records will be maintained in accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, as amended, and the requirements of 29 C.F.R. Part 1614 and DOL’s system of records and shall be separate from the individual’s official personnel file. These records will be maintained for the duration of the employee’s tenure with DOL. The agency EEO Manager and CRC are to keep any cumulative records used to track overall performance with regard to reasonable accommodation for at least three (3) years. This information may be disclosed only as follows:
    1. Supervisors, managers, and departmental officials who need to know (including the decision-maker who requested the medical information) may be told about necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee and about the necessary accommodation(s);
    2. First aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if the disability might require emergency treatment;
    3. Government officials with the requisite authorization may be given information necessary to investigate the agency’s compliance with the Rehabilitation Act; and (4) The information may in certain circumstances be disclosed to workers’ compensation offices or insurance carriers.
  2. When medical information is disclosed, the official disclosing the information must inform the recipient about the confidentiality requirements that attach to the disclosure.

322 Additional Resources

Because the Rehabilitation Act incorporates provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), persons involved in the reasonable accommodation process may seek additional guidance from materials issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which interpret and explain the ADA. These materials include:

The four main sources of interpretive information: (1) the Interpretive Guidance accompanying the Title I regulations (also known as the "Appendix" to the regulations), 29 C.F.R. pt. 1630 app. §§ 1630.2(o), (p), 1630.9; (2) Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (2002); (3) A Technical Assistance Manual on the Employment Provisions (Title I) of the Americans with Disabilities Act, (2002) (Technical Assistance Manual), the Technical Assistance Manual includes a 200-page Resource Directory, including federal and state agencies, and disability organizations that can provide assistance in identifying and locating reasonable accommodations; and (4) Practical Advice for Drafting and Implementing Reasonable Accommodation Procedures Under Executive Order 13164 (2005).

Job Accommodation Network (JAN)

A service of the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, JAN provides information, free-of-charge about many types of reasonable accommodations. Expert consultants are available for consulting purposes toll free at 1-800-232-9675 (Voice/TTY). The JAN website, http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu, contains a wealth of information about a wide variety of accommodations and strategies.

Central Office for Assistive Services and Technology (COAST)

The DOL established COASTin 1997 as a result of a recognized need for a centralized office to improve the provision of reasonable accommodations and assistive services and technology to DOL employees with disabilities and their managers. Services and information resources available through COAST include: sign language interpreting services, needs assessments, alternate formats, equipment/assistive technology, information and referral services. Additionally, COAST serves as the point of contact for DOL's partnership with the Department of Defense's (DoD) Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP). Employees may contact COAST to request services or information via phone, fax, TTY, email, or on a walk-in basis during the hours of 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Voice 202-693-7765, TTY 202-693-7755, Fax 202-693-7761.

ADA Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs)

The DBTACs consist of 10 federally funded regional centers that provide information, training, and technical assistance on the ADA. Each center works with local business, disability, governmental, rehabilitation, and other professional networks to provide current ADA information and assistance, and places special emphasis on meeting the needs of small businesses. The DBTACs can make referrals to local sources of expertise in reasonable accommodations. 1-800-949-4232 (Voice/TTY).

Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

The Registry offers information on locating and using interpreters and transliteration services. (703) 838-0038 (Voice) (703) 838-0459 (TTY); http://www.rid.org/

RESNA Technical Assistance Project

RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, can refer individuals to projects in all 50 states and the six (6) territories offering technical assistance on technology-related services for individuals with disabilities. Services may include: information and referral centers to help determine what devices may assist a person with a disability (including access to large data bases containing information on thousands of commercially available assistive technology products); centers where individuals can test devices and equipment; assistance in obtaining funding for and repairing devices; and equipment exchange and recycling programs.

(703) 524-6686 (Voice)
(703) 524-6639 (TTY)
http://www.resna.org.