Executive Order 13164 requires all Federal Agencies to establish procedures on handling requests for reasonable accommodation. These Procedures replace those issued in February 2001.
EEOC’s Procedures fully comply with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Under the law, EEOC must provide reasonable accommodation to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. The EEOC is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to its employees and applicants for employment to ensure that individuals with disabilities enjoy equal access to all employment opportunities. EEOC provides reasonable accommodations:
A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace or the way things are customarily done that provides an equal employment opportunity to an individual with a disability. While there are some things that are not considered reasonable accommodations (e.g., removal of an essential job function or personal use items such as a hearing aid that is needed on and off the job), reasonable accommodations can cover most things that enable an individual to apply for a job, perform a job, or have equal access to the workplace and employee benefits such as kitchens, parking lots, and office events.
Common types of accommodations include:
EEOC will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner in accordance with the time frames set forth in these Procedures.
EEOC has designated a Disability Program Manager (DPM) to oversee the reasonable accommodation program agency-wide. All requests for reasonable accommodation will be handled by the DPM. If a request is given to a manager or supervisor rather than directly to the DPM, that individual should forward the request immediately and must do so within 2 business days. When an employee makes a request for reasonable accommodation that involves performance of the job, the DPM will work with the employee’s supervisor to ensure that an appropriate accommodation is provided that meets the individual’s disability-related needs and enables the individual to perform the essential functions of the position. See Section II.K. on how to contact the DPM.
As part of the reasonable accommodation interactive process, the DPM will obtain and evaluate documentation supporting an accommodation request (such as medical documentation demonstrating that the requestor is an individual with a disability), whenever the disability or need for accommodation is not obvious.
Sometimes EEOC may be able to address an employee’s impairment-related needs outside the reasonable accommodation process. For example, EEOC has an ergonomic program available to all employees who may require special equipment to address or prevent various ailments. Under the ergonomic program, for instance, an employee with carpal tunnel syndrome may request a specialized chair or wrist pad. Requests under these procedures, as well as requests under the ergonomic program, should be directed to the DPM.
While the DPM will handle all requests for reasonable accommodations, supervisors, managers, and office directors often will need to be consulted about specific requests. Therefore, all management personnel must be familiar with these Procedures and the Commission’s “Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act” (rev. Oct. 17, 2002), which contains significant information on the responsibilities of agency personnel involved in responding to a request for reasonable accommodation, as well as the rights and responsibilities of those requesting accommodation. (This document is available at http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html, and on EEOC’s intranet site, http://insite.eeoc.gov/insite/Enforcement/Compliance_Manual_and_Enforcem/rabarnett_1.pdf.). Applicants and employees may wish to consult this Guidance to better understand the reasonable accommodation process.
EEOC may take steps, solely at the agency’s discretion, beyond those required by section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Generally, an applicant or employee must let the EEOC know that he needs an adjustment or change concerning some aspect of the application process, the job, or a benefit of employment for a reason related to a medical condition. An applicant or employee may request a reasonable accommodation at any time, orally or in writing. An individual should request a reasonable accommodation from the Disability Program Manager (DPM). For applicants, information about contacting the DPM will be in the vacancy announcement and the letter of appointment. (See also Section II.K. on how to contact the DPM.)
If an employee makes a reasonable accommodation request to someone other than the DPM, such as her supervisor, office director, district director, or regional attorney, these supervisors/managers should forward the request to the DPM immediately and must do so within 2 business days. The reasonable accommodation process begins as soon as the oral or written request for accommodation is made to any manager in an employee’s chain of command, so it is imperative that the request be forwarded to the DPM within 2 business days.
An individual’s receipt or denial of an accommodation does not prevent the individual from making another request at a later time if circumstances change and she believes that an accommodation is needed due to limitations from a disability (e.g., the disability worsens or an employee is assigned new duties that require an additional or different reasonable accommodation). Additionally, the DPM may not refuse to process a request for reasonable accommodation, and a reasonable accommodation may not be denied, based on a belief that the accommodation should have been requested earlier (e.g., during the application process).
A request does not have to include any special words, such as “reasonable accommodation,” “disability,” or “Rehabilitation Act.” A request is any communication in which an individual asks or states that she needs EEOC to provide or to change something because of a medical condition. A supervisor, manager, or the DPM should ask an individual whether she is requesting a reasonable accommodation if the nature of the initial communication is unclear.
A family member, health professional, or other representative may request an accommodation on behalf of an EEOC employee or applicant. For example, a doctor’s note outlining medical restrictions for an employee constitutes a request for reasonable accommodation.
When an individual (or third party) makes an oral request, the DPM must ensure that the “Confirmation of Request” form is filled out (see Appendix A). The DPM must fill out the Form if the requestor does not.
An employee needing a reasonable accommodation on a recurring basis, such as the assistance of a sign language interpreter, must submit the “Confirmation” form only for the first request. However, the employee requesting accommodation must give appropriate advance notice each subsequent time the accommodation is needed. If the accommodation is needed on a regular basis (e.g., a weekly staff meeting), the DPM should ensure that an employee’s supervisor makes the appropriate arrangements without requiring a request in advance of each occasion. (See Appendix D for information on requesting sign language interpreters.)
The Disability Program Manager (DPM) is responsible for processing requests for reasonable accommodation. The Director of Human Resources will designate another OHR staff member to act as a back-up for the DPM to process requests when the DPM is unavailable for any length of time (e.g., the DPM is on vacation or out on extended leave).
While the DPM has responsibility for processing requests for reasonable accommodation, the DPM may work closely with an employee’s supervisor or office director in responding to the request, particularly those involving performance of the job. The DPM will need to consult with an employee’s supervisor and/or office director to gather relevant information necessary to respond to a request and to assess whether a particular accommodation will be effective. No reasonable accommodation involving performance of the job will be provided without first informing an employee’s supervisor or, as appropriate, an office director.
After a request for accommodation has been made, the next step is for the parties to begin the interactive process to determine what, if any, accommodation should be provided. This means that the individual requesting the accommodation and the DPM must communicate with each other about the request, the precise nature of the problem that is generating the request, how a disability is prompting a need for an accommodation, and alternative accommodations that may be effective in meeting an individual’s needs.
The DPM will contact the applicant or employee within 10 business days after the request is made (even if the request is initially made to someone else) to begin discussing the accommodation request. In some instances, the DPM may need to get information to determine if an individual’s impairment is a “disability” under the Rehabilitation Act or to determine what would be an effective accommodation. Such information may not be necessary if an effective accommodation is obvious, if the disability is obvious (e.g., the requestor is blind or has paraplegia) or if the disability is already known to the EEOC (e.g., the requestor previously asked for an accommodation and information submitted at that time showed a disability existed and that there would be no change in the individual’s medical condition).
Communication is a priority throughout the entire process, but particularly where the specific limitation, problem, or barrier is unclear; where an effective accommodation is not obvious; or where the parties are considering different forms of reasonable accommodation. Both the individual making the request and the decision maker should work together to identify effective accommodations. Appendix F lists some suggested resources for identifying accommodations.
When a third party (e.g., an individual’s doctor) requests accommodation on behalf of an applicant or employee, the DPM should, if possible, confirm with the applicant or employee that he wants a reasonable accommodation before proceeding. Where this is not possible, for example, because the employee has been hospitalized in an acute condition, the DPM will process the third party’s request if it seems appropriate (e.g., by granting immediate leave) and will consult directly with the individual needing the accommodation as soon as practicable.
The DPM may need to consult with other EEOC personnel (e.g., an employee’s supervisor, Information Technology staff) or outside sources to obtain information necessary to make a determination about the request. The EEOC expects that all agency personnel will give a high priority to responding quickly to a DPM’s request for information or assistance. Any delays by EEOC personnel may result in the agency’s failing to meet the required time frame.
There are specific considerations in the interactive process when an employee needs, or may need, a reassignment.
If a requestor’s disability and/or need for accommodation are not obvious or already known, EEOC (specifically the DPM) is entitled to ask for and receive medical information showing that the requestor has a covered disability that requires accommodation. A disability is obvious or already known when it is clearly visible or the individual previously provided medical information showing that the condition met the Rehabilitation Act definition. It is the responsibility of the applicant/employee to provide appropriate medical information requested by EEOC where the disability and/or need for accommodation are not obvious or already known.
Only the DPM may determine whether medical information is needed and, if so, may request such information from the requestor and/or the appropriate health professional. Even if medical information is needed to process a request, the DPM does not necessarily have to request medical documentation from a health care provider; in many instances the requestor may be able to provide sufficient information that can substantiate the existence of a “disability” and/or need for a reasonable accommodation. (See Section II.E. about the confidentiality of all medical information obtained in processing a request for accommodation.) If an individual has already submitted medical documentation in connection with a previous request for accommodation, the individual should immediately inform the DPM of this fact. The DPM will then determine whether additional medical information is needed to process the current request.
If the initial information provided by the health professional or volunteered by the requestor is insufficient to enable the DPM to determine whether the individual has a “disability” and/or that an accommodation is needed, the DPM will explain what additional information is needed. If necessary, the individual should then ask his/her health care provider or other appropriate professional to provide the missing information. The DPM may also give the individual a list of questions to give to the health care provider or other appropriate professional to answer. If sufficient medical information is not provided by the individual after several attempts, the DPM may ask the individual requesting accommodation to sign a limited release permitting the DPM to contact the provider for additional information. The DPM may have the medical information reviewed by a doctor of the agency’s choosing, at the agency’s expense.
In determining whether documentation is necessary to support a request for reasonable accommodation and whether an applicant or employee has a disability within the meaning of the Rehabilitation Act, the DPM will be guided by principles set forth in the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Specifically, the ADA Amendments Act directs that the definition of “disability” be construed broadly and that the determination of whether an individual has a “disability” generally should not require extensive analysis. Notwithstanding, the DPM may require medical information in order to design an appropriate and effective accommodation.
A supervisor or office director who believes that an employee may no longer need a reasonable accommodation should contact the DPM. The DPM will decide if there is a reason to contact the employee to discuss whether s/he has a continuing need for reasonable accommodation.
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 EEOC obtains in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation must be kept in files separate from the individual’s personnel file. This includes the fact that an accommodation has been requested or approved and information about functional limitations. It also means that any EEOC employee who obtains or receives such information is strictly bound by these confidentiality requirements.
The DPM may share certain information with an employee’s supervisor or other agency official(s) as necessary to make appropriate determinations on a reasonable accommodation request. Under these circumstances, the DPM will inform the recipients about these confidentiality requirements. The information disclosed will be no more than is necessary to process the request. In certain situations, the DPM will not necessarily need to reveal the name of the requestor and/or the office in which the requestor works, or even the name of the disability.
In addition to disclosures of information needed to process a request for accommodation, other disclosures of medical information are permitted as follows:
The time frame for processing a request (including providing accommodation, if approved) is as soon as possible but no later than 30 business days from the date the request is made. This 30-day period includes the 10-day time frame in which the DPM must contact the requestor after a request for reasonable accommodation is made. (See Section II.C.1.)
EEOC will process requests and, where appropriate, provide accommodations in as short a period as reasonably possible. The time frame above indicates the maximum amount of time it should generally take to process a request and provide a reasonable accommodation. The DPM will strive to process the request and provide an accommodation sooner, if possible. Unnecessary delays can result in a violation of the Rehabilitation Act.
The time frame begins when an oral or written request for reasonable accommodation is made, and not necessarily when it is received by the DPM. Therefore, everyone involved in processing a request should respond as quickly as possible. This includes referring a request to the DPM, contacting a doctor if medical information or documentation is needed, and providing technical assistance to the DPM regarding issues raised by a request (e.g., information from a supervisor regarding the essential functions of an employee’s position, information from OIT regarding compatibility of certain adaptive equipment with EEOC’s technology).
If the DPM must request medical information or documentation from a requestor’s doctor, the time frame will stop on the day that the DPM makes a request to the individual to obtain medical information or sends out a request for information/documentation, and will resume on the day that the information/documentation is received by the DPM.
If the disability is obvious or already known to the DPM, if it is clear why reasonable accommodation is needed, and if an accommodation can be provided quickly, then the DPM should not require the full 30 business days to process the request. The following are examples of situations where the disability is obvious or already known and an accommodation can be provided in less than the allotted time frame:
In certain circumstances, a request for reasonable accommodation requires an expedited review and decision. This includes where a reasonable accommodation is needed:
These are circumstances that could not reasonably have been anticipated or avoided in advance of the request for accommodation, or that are beyond EEOC’s ability to control. When extenuating circumstances are present, the time for processing a request for reasonable accommodation and providing the accommodation will be extended as reasonably necessary. Extensions will be limited to circumstances where they are absolutely necessary and only for as long as required to deal with the extenuating circumstance.
All decisions regarding a request for reasonable accommodation will be communicated to an applicant or employee by use of the “Resolution of Request” form (see Appendix B), as well as orally.
An individual dissatisfied with the resolution of a reasonable accommodation request can ask the Director of the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to reconsider that decision. An individual must request reconsideration within 10 business days of receiving the “Resolution” form. A request for reconsideration will not extend the time limits for initiating administrative, statutory, or collective bargaining claims. (See Section II.J. below.)
In order for EEOC to ensure compliance with these Procedures and the Rehabilitation Act, the DPM will complete the “Reasonable Accommodation Information Reporting” form (Appendix C) within 5 business days of issuing the decision.
These forms will be the basis of an annual report to be issued to all employees that will provide a qualitative assessment of EEOC’s reasonable accommodation program, including any recommendations for improvement of EEOC’s reasonable accommodation policies and these Procedures. This annual report will not contain confidential information about specific requests for reasonable accommodations, such as the names of individuals that requested accommodations or the accommodations requested by specific individuals. Rather, this report will provide only general information, such as the total number of requests for accommodations, the types of accommodations requested, and the length of time taken to process requests.
These Procedures do not limit or supplant statutory and collective bargaining protections for persons with disabilities and the remedies they provide for the denial of requests for reasonable accommodation. Requirements governing the initiation of statutory and collective bargaining claims remain unchanged, including the time frames for filing such claims.
The “Resolution of Request” form (Appendix B) provides information to individuals denied accommodation, or denied the accommodation of their choice, about their right to file an EEO complaint and their possible right to pursue MSPB and/or union grievance procedures.
An individual who chooses to pursue statutory or collective bargaining remedies for denial of reasonable accommodation must:
These Procedures create no new enforceable rights under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, any other law, or the collective bargaining agreement. Executive Order 13164, which requires all Federal agencies to adopt reasonable accommodation procedures, explains in section 5(b) that the procedures are “intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch and does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, [or] its agencies.”
Any employee wanting further information concerning these Procedures may contact the Disability Program Manager (DPM) via e-mail at DisabilityProgramManager. Applicants may contact the DPM at DisabilityProgramManager@eeoc.gov.
These Procedures shall be distributed to all employees upon issuance, and annually thereafter. They also will be posted on EEOC’s Intranet and Internet sites, included in the employee handbook, and will be available in EEOC’s library, in the Office of Equal Opportunity, and the Office of Human Resources Management. They will be distributed to all new employees as part of their orientation on their first day of work. These Procedures will be provided in alternative formats when requested from the DPM by, or on behalf of, any EEOC employee.
Jacqueline A. Berrien
(Disability Program Manager will assign number)
Log No.: ______________
Privacy Act Statement
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. section 791, and Executive Order 13164 authorize collection of this information. The primary use of this information is to consider, decide, and implement requests for reasonable accommodation. Additional disclosures of the information may be: To medical personnel to meet a bona fide medical emergency; to another Federal agency, a court, or a party in litigation before a court or in an administrative proceeding being conducted by a Federal agency when the Government is a party to the judicial or administrative proceeding; to a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to an inquiry from the congressional office made at the request of the individual; and to an authorized appeal grievance examiner, formal complaints examiner, administrative judge, equal employment opportunity investigator, arbitrator or other duly authorized official engaged in investigation or settlement of a grievance, complaint or appeal filed by an employee.
EEOC Form 557 (Revised 04/10) PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THIS FORM ARE OBSOLETE AND MUST NOT BE USED
EEOC Form 557a (Revised 04/10) PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THIS FORM ARE OBSOLETE AND MUST NOT BE USED
EEOC Form 557a (Revised 04/10) PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THIS FORM ARE OBSOLETE AND MUST NOT BE USED
EEOC Form 557b (Revised 04/10) PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THIS FORM ARE OBSOLETE AND MUST NOT BE USED
EEOC Form 557b (Revised 04/10) PREVIOUS EDITIONS OF THIS FORM ARE OBSOLETE AND MUST NOT BE USED
SCHEDULING INTERPRETER SERVICES. The individual or office scheduling a meeting or event which will require interpreting services (staff meeting, training, office function, etc.) is responsible for directing the request, via e-mail, to “Interpreting Services.” Please check to see if an interpreter is available before scheduling the date, time, and place of the event.
Requests for staff interpreters are accepted and scheduled on a first come, first serve basis -- with exceptions considered on a case-by-case basis. Interpreting for official EEOC business always takes priority over interpreting for non-official matters.
Advance scheduling preferably one to two weeks is strongly encouraged, to the extent possible. Although it is not possible to foresee every occasion for which interpreting services may be required, failure to schedule interpreting services well in advance may result in the necessity to reschedule meetings until interpreter services are available.
If a meeting or event will last longer than one half hour, arrangements must be made for more than one interpreter to be present, or the meeting or event must be scheduled to include sufficient rest periods, including a “sign-free” lunch break, if necessary. Generally, one interpreter can work 45-60 minutes and then needs a 15-minute break. A break during a meeting or event does not constitute a rest period for the interpreter who is expected to continue working (e.g., deaf and hearing parties wish to communicate during the break and look to the interpreter to facilitate the exchange). Also remember that an employee may need an interpreter during lunch so there may be a need to have additional interpreters to ensure each interpreter has an appropriate lunch break.
An employee who knows sign language or who is taking a sign language class is not an acceptable substitute for an EEOC staff interpreter or a contract interpreter.
When an employee attends a meeting, conference, or training program outside the workplace, and EEOC will be providing the interpreter(s), EEOC will assess whether it would be effective to send staff interpreter(s) or contract interpreter(s). If EEOC decides to send staff interpreter(s), and the office of the employee provides transportation for or reimburses the travel costs of the employee, then that office must also provide for/reimburse travel costs for the staff interpreter(s). Similarly, if the office of the employee pays for meals for the employee while attending these types of events, then that office must also pay for the meals for the staff interpreter(s).
In no case should a staff assistant be called upon -- by management or by the employee(s) to whom he or she is assigned -- to perform the essential functions of the job held by the employee with the disability.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
1-800-669-3362 (Voice) 1-800-800-3302 (TT)
EEOC has published many ADA and Rehabilitation Act-related documents that may assist both individuals requesting accommodations as well as those involved in the decision-making process. Most of these documents are available at www.eeoc.gov.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
A service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, JAN can provide information, free-of-charge, about many types of reasonable accommodations and provide referrals to other organizations that may have particular information about accommodations for persons with different disabilities.
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. The DBTACs can provide information on reasonable accommodation and make referrals to local sources of expertise in reasonable accommodations.
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
(301) 608-0050 (Voice/TT)
The Registry offers information on locating and using interpreters and transliteration services.
RESNA Technical Assistance Project
(703) 524-6686 (Voice) (703) 524-6639 (TT)
RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, can refer individuals to projects in all 50 states and the six territories offering technical assistance on technology-related services for individuals with disabilities. Services may include:
 All references to “disability” in these Procedures refer only to those impairments that meet the ADA/Rehabilitation Act definition of “disability” as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). The expanded definition of “disability” is to be interpreted broadly and does not require an extensive analysis.
The Rehabilitation Act, as amended by the ADAAA, does not require an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an individual who only meets the “regarded as” definition of disability. An applicant or employee must meet either the “actual” definition (i.e., person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity) or the “record of” definition (i.e., person has a record of an impairment that substantially limited a major life activity) to be eligible for reasonable accommodation.
 EEOC has an agency-wide budget, administered by the DPM, to cover all costs associated with providing reasonable accommodations, including sign language interpreters, furniture, technology, and other significant purchases.
 If an EEOC official knows that a disability, such as an intellectual disability (formerly referred to as “mental retardation”), prevents a person from asking for a reasonable accommodation, and it appears that one may be needed, the official should ask whether accommodation is needed. The time frame for processing a request begins when the official makes the inquiry.
 See Appendix D for information on how employees may directly schedule sign language interpreters without going through a supervisor or other manager.
 See footnote 2 that explains when the time frame begins if an EEOC official must inquire if reasonable accommodation is needed when an individual’s disability, e.g., an intellectual disability (formerly called “mental retardation”) prevents him from asking for one.
 Currently, Interpreting Services generally meet interpreter needs in field offices by contracting for such services.