- Civil Rights Home
- What is Reasonable Accommodation?
- Who Can Request a Reasonable Accommodation?
- Timeline for Processing a Reasonable Accommodation Request
- Union Procedures and Forms for Reasonable Accommodation Requests
- National Reasonable Accommodation Staff Contacts
- Local Reasonable Accommodation Coordinators
- Helpful Links
- Frequent Questions
Reasonable accommodation (RA) is what an employer, in this case - EPA does differently for an employee or applicant to remove a workplace barrier.
Reasonable accommodation can be modifications or adjustments to a job, employment practice, or work environment that makes it possible for an employee with a disability to:
- Perform essential job duties;
- Adhere to uniformly applied conduct rules; and
- Enjoy equal benefits/privileges of employment.
Reasonable accommodation can be modifications or adjustments for an applicant with disability to have equal access to application process.
An applicant for employment may request a reasonable accommodation (RA), either orally or in writing, from any EPA employee authorized to interact with the applicant in the application process, the National Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (NRAC), the Assistant National Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator, or the Local Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (LORAC).
An employee, or an individual acting on behalf of the employee, may request an RA either orally or in writing, from his/her supervisor, another supervisor in his/her immediate chain of command, NRAC, Assistant NRAC, or LORAC if in a regional office, RTP lab, Cincinnati lab or the Office of Inspector General (OIG).
When an RA request is made by a third party on behalf of an individual, the Agency official processing the request should confirm the individual's authority to represent the employee with a disability.
Senior Environmental Employment (SEE) enrollees or other contractors for EPA would need to request reasonable accommodations from their employer.
It is EPA’s goal to provide reasonable accommodations as quickly as possible to remove the workplace barriers for an employee or applicant. Full and open communication between the employee, the decision-maker, and the reasonable accommodation team (NRAC/LORAC) is a critical component of the accommodation process, and helps to ensure that there is a full exchange of relevant information so the Agency can make appropriate decisions. Ongoing, even extensive, communication between the decision-maker and/or the NRAC/LORAC and the applicant or employee is especially important when the specific limitation, problem, or obstacle is unclear.
The timing for resolution of requests involving facility access or modifications to the building can be difficult to determine because of necessary coordination with other federal agencies. All facility access requests will be handled as promptly as possible, and the RAC should update the person making the request every 10 work days until a determination is made.
Generally, when requests involving the essential job functions do not require supporting medical information, and no extenuating circumstances apply, the supervisor should determine whether the Agency will provide a reasonable accommodation and notify the employee within 10 working days from receiving the initial request.
If medical documentation is needed, the employee will have up to 60 calendars to provide sufficient but limited medical documentation.
EPA has two procedures for filing and determining an RA request depending on the employee’s bargaining status. The first concerns employees who are members of the American Federation of Government Employees, while the second concerns all other employees, including managers.
- Appendix A Form for Applicants who are applying for a position at EPA (PDF)
- Appendix B Form for AFGE Employees who already work at EPA (PDF)
- Appendix B Form for Non-AFGE Employees (including non-bargaining employees and managers) who already work at EPA (PDF)
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) administers EPA’s National Reasonable Accommodation Program and all related activities pertaining to processing requests for accommodations, providing guidance and training to EPA employees in their various roles (supervisor, requestor, LORACs, etc.); assisting with issue resolution and the development of or assistance with developing associated policies and procedures; and maintains the reasonable accommodation files including medical documentation.
If you email the NRAC, please include the Assistant NRAC. Email is the best and preferred method to contact us.
|Location||National Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (NRAC)||Assistant NRAC|
Office of Civil RightsEPA Headquarters, Washington, DC
LORACS are an invaluable part of EPA Reasonable Accommodation Program given the geographical locations and number of EPA employees. LORACs serve as the principal advisor to management and employees within their designated region, lab, or office, and report to the NRAC and Assistant NRAC on reasonable accommodations requests or concerns for employees and applicants for employment with disabilities.
|Region 1||Susan Howlett||
|Region 2||Ann-Heng Jen|
|Region 3||Gregory Weller||Julissa Baez|
|Region 4||Carlos Asencio||Pargol “Patty” Ezzati|
|Region 5||Scott Sharon||Maria Zamora-Ceballos|
|Region 6||Ross Tuttle|
|Region 7||Jonathan Cooper||Michael Butkovich|
|Region 8||Mike Shanahan|
|Region 9||Philip Kum|
|Region 10||Shawn Drummond|
|Cincinnati||Lonnie Gates||David Mick|
|Research Triangle Park (RTP)||Tessa Burmania||Nikki Davis|
Office of the Inspector General (OIG)Note: Only Headquarters’ office with its own LORAC
|Deana Kennedy||Kim Rawls|
|All other HQs offices||Kristin Tropp|
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides leadership and guidance to federal agencies on disability, disability discrimination, and reasonable accommodation, as well as on all aspects of the federal government's equal employment opportunity program.
- The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues to managers and employees.
- The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) EXIT; a program of the Department of Defense, provides assistive technology and services to people with disabilities. Federal managers, supervisors, IT professionals, and Wounded Service Members. CAP provides necessary accommodations FREE OF CHARGE to federal agencies. EPA has a memorandum of understanding with the CAP program, but employees must have a reasonable accommodation on file with EPA in order to make a request.
- Q1: What exactly is reasonable accommodation?
- Q2: What does reasonable mean?
- Q3: Who is eligible for reasonable accommodation?
- Q4: Who is disabled under the rehabilitation act?
- Q5: What are major life activities?
- Q6: What does substantially limits mean?
- Q7: Are specific medical impairments included as disabling?
- Q8: Does EPA have more than one set of reasonable accommodation procedures?
- Q9: Who coordinates the reasonable accommodation policy and procedures?
- Q10: Must all reasonable accommodation requests be made in writing?
- Q11: How are reasonable accommodation requests processed?
- Q12: Who is authorized to approve or deny a request?
- Q13: Are there specific time limits for granting or denying a reasonable accommodation request?
- Q14: When may EPA Request Medical Documentation?
- Q15: When necessary, who receives and reviews medical documentation to determine its sufficiency?
- Q16: When may EPA not request medical documentation?
- Q17: Must the D-M provide the accommodation requested by the employee?
- Q18: Can working from home be considered a reasonable accommodation?
- Q19: How frequently may someone with a disability work at home as a reasonable accommodation?
- Q20: May a D-M withdraw a telework arrangement or a modified schedule provided as a reasonable accommodation because the employee is given an unsatisfactory performance rating?
- Q21: What constitutes 'undue hardship'?
- Q22: When is reassignment considered as a reasonable accommodation?
- Q23: Is EPA required to inform an individual of the decision made regarding their reasonable accommodation request?
- Q24: If an employee's disability causes violation of a conduct rule, may management discipline the employee?
- Q25: What should a supervisor do if an employee requests an accommodation for the first time in response to counseling or a low performance rating?
- Q26: Are agencies required to track reasonable accommodation requests?
- Q27: Are there any resources to contact regarding reasonable accommodation?
- Q28: What is the computer electronic accommodation program (CAP)?
- Q29: What do I do if there is no money set aside in my budget to purchase items for reasonable accommodation?
- Q30: Must reasonable accommodation requests be made at a specific time?
- Q31: What do I do when I don't know what to do?
- Q32: Is EPA required to inform an individual of the decision made regarding their reasonable accommodation request?
A3 - ONLY applicants or employees who are disabled in accordance with Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 amended, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) or, EPA Policy and Procedures for Reasonable Accommodation, are eligible for reasonable accommodation consideration. This includes an individual with a disability who is qualified and can perform the essential functions of the current job or one they desire. To be qualified, the individual with a disability must be able to perform the essential functions of the current job or one they desire, either with or without a reasonable accommodation.
- An impairment need not prevent, significantly or severely restrict, the individual from performing a major life activity to be considered substantially limiting;
- The term substantially limits should be construed broadly in favor of expansive coverage;
- Requires an individualized assessment;
- The determination of disability should not require extensive analysis;
- Usually, it will not require scientific, medical, or statistical evidence, but such evidence may be used if appropriate;
An individual need only be substantially limited, or have a record of a substantial limitation, in one major life activity to be covered under the first or second prong of the definition of disability.
Q20 - MAY A D-M WITHDRAW A TELEWORK ARRANGEMENT OR A MODIFIED SCHEDULE PROVIDED AS A REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION BECAUSE THE EMPLOYEE IS GIVEN AN UNSATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE RATING?
- The nature of the accommodation needed;
- The overall financial resources of EPA (not just the resources of the office, division, branch or region);
- The impact of the accommodation on the operation of the office, division, branch, etc.
Q23- IS EPA REQUIRED TO INFORM AN INDIVIDUAL OF THE DECISION MADE REGARDING THEIR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION REQUEST?
A23 - Yes. It is required when a decision regarding the individual’s request is made, that the applicant or employee be informed in writing by the D-M. The denial of reasonable accommodation must include the specific reason why the request was denied and inform the person of their rights to appeal as well as other available avenues of redress. Standard language regarding this notification is included in the EPA Reasonable Accommodation Procedures.
Q24 - IF AN EMPLOYEE'S DISABILITY CAUSES VIOLATION OF A CONDUCT RULE, MAY MANAGEMENT DISCIPLINE THE EMPLOYEE?
A24 - Yes. If the conduct rule is job-related and consistent with business necessity and other employees are held to the same standard. The Rehabilitation Act does not protect employees from the consequences of violating conduct requirements even where the conduct is caused by the disability. If an employee states that the disability is the cause of the conduct problem or requests reasonable accommodation, management may still discipline the employee for the misconduct. If the appropriate disciplinary action is termination, the Rehabilitation Act would not require further discussion about the employee’s disability or request for reasonable accommodation. If the discipline is something less than termination, management may ask about the disability's relevance to the misconduct, or if the employee thinks there is an accommodation that could help him/her avoid future misconduct. If an accommodation is requested, management should begin an interactive process to determine whether one is needed to correct a conduct problem, and, if so, what accommodation would be effective.
Q25 - WHAT SHOULD A SUPERVISOR DO IF AN EMPLOYEE REQUESTS AN ACCOMMODATION FOR THE FIRST TIME IN RESPONSE TO COUNSELING OR A LOW PERFORMANCE RATING?
A25 - The supervisor may proceed with the discussion or evaluation but also should begin the interactive process by discussing with the employee how the disability may be affecting performance and what accommodation the employee believes may help to improve the performance. The supervisor cannot refuse to discuss the request or fail to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability who is as punishment for the performance problem If a reasonable accommodation is needed to assist an employee with a disability in addressing a performance problem and the D-M refuses to provide one, absent undue hardship, the D-M has violated the Rehabilitation Act and the Reasonable Accommodation Procedures.
A26 - Yes. The EPA Reasonable Accommodation Procedures outline the specific information that must be tracked in accordance with EEOC guidelines. This information is tracked by the NRAC.
A27 - Both sets of Reasonable Accommodation Procedures lists resources managers, supervisors and employees can utilize to find suggestions and recommendations related to specific accommodations for an individual. It is strongly advised that either the LORAC or NRAC also be utilized as such a resource.
A28 - Established by the Federal government, the Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP) is a centrally funded program that provides assistive technology (AT) and reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. CAP's mission is to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to information and employment opportunities in the Department of Defense (DOD) and throughout the Federal government. The program is managed by the DOD. EPA is a partner in this program and is therefore eligible to receive assistive technology devices and services for employees with disabilities AT NO COST to EPA. That's right FREE!! Contact the NRAC or your LORAC for more information about this program.
Q29 - WHAT DO I DO IF THERE IS NO MONEY SET ASIDE IN MY BUDGET TO PURCHASE ITEMS FOR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION?
A29 - Some regions have decided to have a centralized fund to pay for reasonable accommodation. Both reasonable accommodation procedures describe what is required if the accommodation being requested cannot be funded by the employee’s office. Research done by the Job Accommodation Network and the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, indicates that the large majority of all reasonable accommodations cost less than $1,000. It is virtually impossible to use cost as the reason not to provide an accommodation that is effective. EEOC guidelines clearly state that the overall budget of an agency/department would be considered, not just the operating budget of a particular office, region, unit, etc.
A30 - No. Under the Rehabilitation Act, the duty to provide reasonable accommodation is an ongoing one. Thus, an individual with a disability must be permitted to request accommodation whenever he/she chooses or be allowed to modify a current reasonable accommodation, when necessary. That request will then trigger EPA's obligation to start the process identified in the procedures.
A31 - Again, each region and the labs in Cincinnati and RTP have designated LORACs to assist management and employees with this process. The National and Assistant Reasonable Accommodation Coordinators assist all headquarter employees and the other labs with the reasonable accommodation process. For more information regarding the reasonable accommodation program, please contact Amanda Sweda, National Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at (202) 566-0678 or Sweda.Amanda@epa.gov or Kristin Tropp, Assistant National Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at (202) 559-0006 or Tropp.Kristin@epa.gov.
Q32- IS EPA REQUIRED TO INFORM AN INDIVIDUAL OF THE DECISION MADE REGARDING THEIR REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION REQUEST?
A32 - Yes. It is required when a decision regarding the individual's request is made, that the applicant or employee be informed in writing by the D-M. The denial of reasonable accommodation must include the specific reason why the request was denied and inform the person of their rights to appeal as well as other available avenues of redress. Standard language regarding this notification is included in the EPA Reasonable Accommodation Procedures.