Federal Reasonable Accommodation Lawyer Representing Government Employees Nationwide
As an employee of the federal government, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations if you have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from performing your job duties in your agency’s or office’s normal work environment. But, asserting your rights can prove challenging, and many federal employees have their requests for reasonable accommodations denied. If you need help asserting your legal rights, you should consult with a federal reasonable accommodation attorney promptly.
What Qualifies as a Reasonable Accommodation for a Federal Employee?
Reasonable accommodations can take many different forms. While federal employees can request specific accommodations, the government does not necessarily have to provide a particular accommodation if other options are available. With that said, if you need a reasonable accommodation, you should certainly ask for what you want, and you should not accept an accommodation that fails to adequately meet your needs.
The following are all common examples of reasonable accommodations that are available to federal employees under the Rehabilitation Act, which applies the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to federal employees:
- Accessibility – Examples of accessibility accommodations include accessible parking, wheelchair accessibility, and other physical modifications to your workspace that allow you to do your job.
- Job Restructuring – If you are no longer able to perform the essential functions of your job, you may be entitled to have your job restructured so that you can maintain your employment with the federal government.
- Modified Work Schedule – If you need additional breaks or regularly-scheduled time off for doctor’s appointments, you may be entitled to a modified work schedule as a reasonable accommodation. Adjusted arrival and departure times are common accommodations as well.
- Modified Workplace Policies – If a modification of workplace policies is necessary to accommodate your disability, you are entitled to this modification, even if it does not affect any other employees in your agency or office.
- Paid or Unpaid Leave – You may be entitled to exhaust your accrued paid leave as a reasonable accommodation. While additional paid leave generally is not an option, you may be entitled to additional unpaid leave to attend doctor’s appointments, rest, obtain the necessary training, or avoid temporary adverse working conditions.
- Part-Time Employment – In addition to a modified work schedule and additional unpaid leave, part-time employment can also qualify as a reasonable accommodation in appropriate circumstances. This is true even if your agency’s or office’s policies do not permit part-time work for non-disabled employees.
- Personal Assistance – Federal employees who require interpreting, reading and other services due to mental disabilities are entitled to receive these services as reasonable accommodations.
- Reassignment – If you can no longer perform your job duties due to a physical or mental disability, reassignment may also be an option, in addition to job restructuring.
- Work Site Flexibility – Working at an alternate job site, working from home, and other alternate work site arrangements can also qualify as reasonable accommodations.
- Workstation Modification – Modifications to your workstation, such as raising the height of your desk or replacing your chair with a more ergonomic option, can qualify as reasonable accommodations if they are sufficient to meet your needs.
This list is not exclusive. Various other types of reasonable accommodations may also be available; and, ultimately, what constitutes a reasonable accommodation must be determined on a case-by-case basis in light of each individual employee’s specific needs. Just because your agency or office offers one of the options listed above, this does not necessarily mean that the government has met its obligations under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. If you feel that the accommodation you have been offered is not enough, federal reasonable accommodation lawyer Jay Stafford can determine if you are entitled to more.
Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation as a Federal Employee
Unfortunately, requesting a reasonable accommodation from the federal government is not a straightforward process. There are several steps involved, and, for this reason, it is best to work with an experienced attorney. An experienced federal reasonable accommodation attorney will be able to assist with matters including:
- Proving that You Have a Qualifying Disability – In order to be eligible for a reasonable accommodation under the Rehabilitation Act, you must be able to prove that you have a “disability” as defined by the ADA. Before taking any other steps, your lawyer can determine if your medical condition qualifies.
- Submitting Your Request and Supporting Documentation – If you are eligible for a reasonable accommodation, your lawyer can submit your request on your behalf. Your lawyer can also submit the necessary supporting documentation; and, crucially, make sure the government does not demand information that you are not required to disclose.
- Going through the “Interactive Process” – Once you submit your request, you will need to go through the “Interactive Process.” This is (or should be) a good-faith discussion focused on determining what you need and what your agency or office can provide. As mentioned above, you should not hesitate to ask for what you think is best, and your lawyer can help steer the Interactive Process toward your desired resolution.
Dealing with a Denied Request for a Reasonable Accommodation
What if the federal government has denied your request for a reasonable accommodation? In this scenario, you have several potential options—including:
- Appeal the Denial – Depending on why your agency or office denied your request, you may have grounds to file an appeal.
- Take FMLA Leave – If you cannot safely work, you may qualify to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- File for Disability Retirement – If your federal office or agency cannot accommodate your disability, you may be able to file for Federal Disability Retirement with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Speak with a Federal Reasonable Accommodation Attorney in Confidence
If you need to know more about your rights as a federal employee, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To schedule an appointment with federal reasonable accommodation attorney Jay Stafford, please call 410-514-6099 or tell us how we can contact you online today.