WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today released a policy guidance implementing Executive Order 13164, which requires all federal employers to establish effective written procedures for processing requests for "reasonable accommodation" by employees and applicants with disabilities.
"This guidance will help create additional opportunities for people with disabilities in the federal workplace," said EEOC Chairwoman Ida L. Castro. "By assuring that federal managers address reasonable accommodation requests in a prompt, fair, and efficient manner, the guidance will remove workplace barriers that might otherwise confront qualified individuals with disabilities, thereby allowing them to reach their full potential."
The guidance explains the provisions of Executive Order 13164 and sets forth instructions for implementing each of the Order's procedural requirements. The guidance makes clear, for example, that individuals with disabilities may make oral or written requests for reasonable accommodation and that requests may be made at any time. It further explains that agencies should authorize first-line supervisors to consider and approve requests for accommodation wherever possible, and that time limits for decision making on requests must be as short as reasonably possible. The guidance also addresses the circumstances in which federal managers may permissibly request medical information in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation.
The guidance also provides background information on the basic legal requirement, under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, that federal employers provide reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with disabilities unless the accommodation would pose an "undue hardship" for the agency.
"The guidance will facilitate improvements in customer service for federal government workers and applicants with disabilities," added Ms. Castro. "Through the implementation of the guidance, federal agencies will be better equipped to meet their responsibility of providing reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities will know what to expect in the reasonable accommodation process."
The full text of the new policy guidance and a question and answer fact sheet, as well as other information about the Commission, is available on the agency's web site at www.eeoc.gov.