Frequently Asked Questions


Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

ADR provides for a qualified and neutral party to attempt to resolve an employment matter. For matters pertaining to complaints of discrimination, ADR can begin at any point during the pre-complaint or formal complaint stages. ADR can be particularly useful where communication has broken down or emotions are intense. Discussions during ADR sessions are confidential; and all written documentation obtained for the benefit of ADR will not be retained, or used as part of the official complaint’s record.

Civil Rights Directorate

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

A: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a process in which a facilitator/third party neutral assists parties in reaching a resolution through the use of various techniques.

Q: What is the purpose of ADR?

A: ADR provides an opportunity for the individuals in a dispute to discuss their issues with the assistance of a facilitator/third party neutral, and to explore mutually satisfactory ways to resolve the issues.

Q: What types of ADR processes are available at Coast Guard?

A: The following ADR processes may be used either individually, or in combination:

Facilitated Conversation allows the parties to meet together and to have uninterrupted time to speak about the issues. Ideally, the parties will clarify misunderstandings and work out problems in the work relationship.

Shuttle Diplomacy allows each party to propose an idea for settling the dispute to


a third party and to hear the other party’s proposal without meeting together.

Mediation - In mediation, the parties meet in-person, by telephone or video conference with a third party who gives each party uninterrupted time to speak

during a joint session and then has private meetings with each party concerning their ideas for resolution. If the parties come to an agreement, a Resolution

Agreement is prepared for the parties to sign later.



Q: What is the most common ADR method used by Coast Guard?

A: Mediation is the most common ADR method used by Coast Guard. Mediation involves a neutral third party who has no decision making authority.

Q: What are the benefits of ADR?

A: Some benefits of ADR are:

 Enhances communication between parties

 Allows for resolution to be reached with terms both parties can agree upon

 Changes the attitudes of the parties involved

 Improves the trust of the parties involved

 Saves time versus traditional litigation of disputes, which can often take two or more years

 Saves taxpayers dollars versus traditional litigation of disputes, which may involve attorney fees

Q: What does the ADR process entail?

A: The ADR process includes the following:

1. A request for ADR by the aggrieved party.

2. An ADR suitability determination by the Civil Rights Directorate Staff.

3. A representative from the Command with decision-making authority.

4. An ADR facilitator/third party neutral.

5. A setting conducive for ADR discussions.

6. The possibility of resolution and a settlement agreement.

7. The timely coordination and execution of settlement terms by the responsible parties.

8. Conclusion of the proceedings.

9. Monitoring compliance.

Q: What is an ADR facilitator/third party neutral?

A: An ADR facilitator/third party neutral is a neutral party, who neither advocates for a party nor renders any decisions. They facilitate communication between parties, help

each side gain a clearer perspective of the situation, and assist the parties in developing mutually satisfactory options for resolving the issues. In mediation, the facilitator/third party neutral would be the mediator.

Q: Who are ADR facilitators?

A: Civil Rights Service Providers serve as facilitators. Additionally, trained agency personnel outside of Civil Rights Directorate or individuals from external sources may also serve as facilitators.

Q: Is ADR confidential?

A: Yes. There are no written records or notes maintained except for a resolution agreement if a resolution is achieved.

Q: When is ADR available?

A: ADR can be requested at any stage of the complaint process.

Q: Is the Command/Unit required to participate in ADR?

A: Pre-complaint, the Command/Unit must participate in ADR if the Aggrieved Person elects it except in the limited circumstances in which ADR is inappropriate. In the formal complaint stage, decisions to allow the Command/Unit to reject ADR participation are made on a case by case basis.

Q: Am I entitled to representation in an ADR session?

A: Yes, you may have an attorney or other representative in the ADR session. The representative participates in the session as your advisor. You are responsible for any

expenses associated with the participation of your representative.

Q: Do I need to bring witnesses to the ADR session?

A: Witnesses do not participate in ADR sessions.

Q: Are the parties required to reach settlement in ADR?

A: Settlement is not a requirement for participation in ADR. Neither party can be coerced to accept a settlement.

Q: As the Aggrieved Person, how much time do I have to make a decision whether to accept a settlement?

A: In cases that do not allege age discrimination, the parties should come to the ADR session prepared to make a decision. In cases involving age discrimination, the

Aggrieved Person has up to 21 calendar days to consider the agreement before signing it and seven calendar days to revoke the agreement after signing.

Q: Who to contact to find out more about ADR?

A: Contact your servicing Civil Rights Service Provider (CRSP) for more information about ADR. For a list of CRSPs in your geographical location, please visit or contact 1-888-992-7387 or TTY 202-372-4523.

Anti-Harassment Policy

The purpose of this policy is to prescribe procedures, in accordance with the Coast Guard and DHS’ Anti-Harassment Policy, for combating harassment in the Coast Guard and to promptly correct any harassment that occurs. This policy also prescribes additional notification procedures for conduct that constitutes as a hate incident. The Coast Guard continually strives to meet the highest standards of personal respect by valuing human dignity and diversity in accordance with our core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.

Q: What is harassment? 

A: USCG policy defines harassment as unwelcome conduct, whether verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment on the basis of an individual’s protected status, which includes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, political affiliation, or any other basis protected by law.

Q: What are some examples of harassment as defined above?

A: Harassment that violates USCG policy can occur in a number of ways. Various examples include:

Making jokes, remarks or displaying images, pictures, or other materials that unreasonably interfere with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

A supervisor coercing an employee into an unwelcome sexual relationship and then rewarding the employee with a promotion.

A supervisor taking disciplinary action or denying a promotion to an employee because he or she rejected sexual advances from the supervisor.

Retaliating against an employee for alleging harassment or participating in fact-finding interviews.

Being the target of offensive or demeaning remarks because the employee is a single mother with children.

Denying the opportunity of an employee to participate in an off-site training because he or she is over 40 years of age.

Verbal abuse/put-downs, name-calling or the use of racial epithets or slang that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment.

Intimidating behavior such as asking for, or offering, sexual favors in return for positive performance appraisal or promotion.

Q: What is a hate incident, and how is it different from harassment?

A: USCG defines hate incidents as intentional acts of intolerance committed against a person, a group of individuals, or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by bias against a protected group and which is intended to or is more likely than not to have the effect of intimidating others to similar conduct.

Q: What are some examples of hate incidents as described above?

A: Hate incidents usually, but not always, involve public displays. Examples include the display, presentation, creation or depiction of a noose, swastika, or any other symbol widely identified with oppression or hatred, photographs, images or other printed or electronic material that evidences oppression or hatred, irrespective of size, type, or how it is displayed or presented.

Q: Why does the USCG have an anti-harassment and hate incident procedures policy?

A: The anti-harassment procedures allows USCG management to address employee allegations of harassment or hate incidents and take immediate and appropriate corrective action, including the use of disciplinary actions, to eliminate harassing conduct regardless of whether the conduct violated the law. The goal is to address harassing conduct at the earliest possible stage, before it can become "severe or pervasive" harassment within the meaning of anti-discrimination laws.

Q: Where should I go to report harassment or hate incidents?

A: USCG civilian and military members who believe they have been the victims or witnesses of harassment or hate incidents should report the matter immediately to their chain of command. They may also report the matter to their servicing Civil Rights Service Provider (CRSP), or to headquarters, Civil Rights Directorate.

Q: What if I believe I have been harassed, but not based on the reasons above?

A: Harassment covered under USCG policy is limited to the definition and protected categories, e.g., race, gender, etc., provided above. If the alleged conduct you report does not meet the definition of harassment under this policy, there are other options you may wish to explore to address your concerns. Your chain of command, Personnel Officer, Human Resource Officer, or Command Staff Advisor (CSA), can provide additional information regarding these options.

Q: Is reporting harassment the same as filing an EEO/EO complaint?

A: No. The anti-harassment procedures do not affect the rights of an individual or group to initiate a complaint under the EEO complaints process. The anti-harassment process is entirely separate and apart from the EEO complaints process. This means that if an employee reports allegations of harassment in accordance with the anti-harassment procedures, he or she has not filed an EEO/EO complaint. An employee who wishes to file an EEO/EO discrimination complaint should contact his/her servicing CRSP within 45 days of the alleged harassing conduct.

Q: What is the role of managers and supervisors?

A: Managers and supervisors represent the USCG and are responsible for maintaining a work environment free of harassment. Managers or supervisors who observe or are made aware of allegations of harassment are required to act promptly, effectively, and in accordance with USCG anti-harassment policy and procedures to determine the scope of the alleged harassing conduct and take corrective or disciplinary action as appropriate and necessary.

Q: If I report harassment, will the information provided be kept confidential?

A: All information shall remain confidential to the greatest extent possible in accordance with the Privacy Act. Information is restricted to those who have a "need to know" and may include fact-finders, the servicing CRSP, witnesses, the alleged harasser, and supervisors who are required to take action on the matter raised.

Q: If I report harassment and then change my mind about going forward with the allegations, what happens?

A: The USCG is still obligated to look into the allegations raised.

For more information, please refer to the Civil Rights Manual, COMDTINST M5350.4C, Chapter 2, Section C, Part 1, or speak to your servicing civil rights service provider.

Reasonable Accommodation

Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 791, prohibits federal employers from engaging in employment discrimination against person with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. This law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities unless to do so would cause undue hardship.

Q: What is reasonable accommodation?

A: Reasonable accommodation is a change or adjustment to a work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.

Reasonable accommodation may include acquiring or modifying equipment or devices; job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; reassignment to a vacant position; adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies; providing readers and interpreters; making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.


Q: Who is an individual with a disability?

A: An individual with a disability 1) has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more of the person’s major life activities, 2) has a record of such impairment, or 3) is regarded as having such impairment.


Q: Who is considered a qualified individual with a disability?

A: A qualified individual with a disability has the skills, experience, education, and other requirements of the job the individual holds or desires and can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodations.


Q: Who is responsible for granting Reasonable Accommodations?

A: The requestor’s supervisor or someone within the supervisory chain of command (Decision Maker).


Q: What steps Decision Makers or designees take after receiving a request for reasonable accommodation?

A: After the Decision Maker or appropriate Coast Guard official receives a request for accommodation, the next step is for the parties to begin an interactive process. This involves dialog between the individual requesting the accommodation and the Decision Maker to determine specifics about the requested accommodation, alternatives, the need for additional documentation, or information. The employee or applicant requesting the accommodation must cooperate throughout this process.

During this process, the name of the Decision Maker should be provided to the individual requesting the accommodation; and a plan of action the Decision Maker will take during the course of the accommodation deliberation.


Q: May the Decision Maker request documentation from the individual requesting the reasonable accommodation?

A: Yes. When the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious, the Decision Maker may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations. The Decision Maker is entitled to know whether the individual has a qualified disability for which s/he requests a reasonable accommodation. [Decisions Makers are urged to contact a servicing Civil Rights Service Provider for technical assistance. Medical information is privacy protected and must remain handled accordingly and confidential.]


Q: Are there situations when the Decision Maker cannot ask for documentation?

A: Yes. A Decision Maker cannot ask for documentation when: 1) both the disability and the need for reasonable accommodation are obvious, or 2) the individual has already provided the Decision Maker or the Coast Guard with sufficient information to substantiate that s/he has an qualified disability and is in need of the requested accommodation.


Q: How long do decisions for Reasonable Accommodations take?

A: Coast Guard procedures require a Decision Maker to make a written decision within fifteen (15) business days of receipt of the request for accommodations; and to knowledge receipt of a request within five (5) business days using form CG-6080 (Confirmation of Request for Reasonable Accommodation).


Q: When would a request for a Reasonable Accommodation get denied?

A: A reasonable accommodation request may be denied for a number of reasons, such as a failure to provide sufficient medical documentation; the requestor is not a disabled individual within the purview of Title VII; the accommodation requested would create an undue financial burden; the accommodation would create an undue administrative burden; and the change or exception would fundamentally alter the nature of the Coast Guard’s mission or business.


Q: Do requests for Reasonable Accommodations need to be in writing?

A: No. Employees may request accommodations both orally, and in writing from their first level supervisor or "Decision Maker," servicing Human Resources Specialist (HRS) or Command Staff Advisor (CSA). As stated above, Coast Guard management must confirm receipt in writing by completing the form entitled Acknowledgement of Request for Reasonable Accommodation, CG-6080.


Q: Who can request Reasonable Accommodations?

A: Any Coast Guard member, family member, healthcare professional, job applicant, or a representative of the member or applicant. When requests are made on behalf of the member or applicant, to the extent possible, the individual with a disability should be contacted to confirm that he/she in fact wishes the accommodation.


Q: What requests are not considered forms of Reasonable Accommodations?

A: The Coast Guard does not have to get rid of an essential function of a job or lower production standards that it has for all employees in the same job category. Also, the Coast Guard in general is not obligated to provide personal use items, such eyeglasses, wheelchair or hearing aids that a person uses both on and off the job.


Q: Does the Coast Guard have to change an individual's supervisor as a form of reasonable accommodation?

A: No. The Decision Maker does not have to change an employee’s supervisor as a reasonable accommodation. Although Coast Guard is not required to change an employee’s supervisor as a form of reasonable accommodation, a supervisory method may be altered as a form of reasonable accommodation.


Q: Should managers withhold discipline or termination of an employee who, because of a disability, violated a conduct rule that is job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity?

A: No. Management must not excuse a violation of a uniformly applied conduct rule that is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Management must not tolerate or excuse violence, threats of violence, stealing, or destruction of property. Management may discipline an employee with a disability for engaging in such misconduct if it would impose the same discipline on an employee without a disability.


Q: What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?

A: Some examples of reasonable accommodation are:

· Making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;

· Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices;

· Adjusting or modifying examinations or policies;

· Adapting computer software/equipment;

· Providing flexible time lines for program completion;

· Providing qualified readers, note takers, and/or sign language interpreters;

· Providing alternative print format


Q: Will my personal medical information be protected if I request a reasonable accommodation?

A: Yes. The Decision Maker or any other Coast Guard official who receives information in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation must protect such information to the extent possible and only share information on a need to know basis in order to make determinations about the reasonable accommodation request. (See Chapter 6, COMDTINST M5350.4D for specific rules governing the confidentiality of medical information.)


Q: Is the Coast Guard relieved of its obligation to provide a Reasonable Accommodation for an employee with a disability who fails to take medication, to obtain medical treatment, or to use an assistive device (such as a hearing aid)?

A: No. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, requires an employer should act to provide reasonable accommodation to remove workplace barriers, regardless of what effect medication, other medical treatment, or assistive devices may have on an employee's ability to perform the job. However, if an employee with a disability, with or without reasonable accommodation, cannot perform the essential functions of the position or poses a direct threat in the absence of medication, treatment, or an assistive device, then s/he is unqualified.


Q: Are there other resources for Reasonable Accommodations?

A: Yes. There are several organizations that the Coast Guard has partnered with in order to provide quality reasonable accommodation services to Coast Guard employees. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Disability Resource Center (DRC), Department of Defense (DoD) Computer Accessibility Program (CAP), and Job Accommodation Network (JAN) are several resources that provides job accommodations and related services to Coast Guard employees. Please contact your local Civil Rights Service Provider at for more information.


Q: Does the Coast Guard have central funding for requests like chairs or footstools?

A: Yes. Neither the Disability Resource Center (DRC) nor Computer Accessibility Program (CAP) will fund items such as chairs or footstools. However, these items may be paid for through Coast Guard’s central funding and or through local unit or component organizational funds, depending upon the circumstances.


Q: Who is responsible for maintaining reasonable accommodation records?

A: The Civil Rights Directorate is responsible for collecting, reviewing and analyzing reasonable accommodation activity on a quarterly basis. Annually, an aggregate report, without names, is submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission through DHS.


Q: Are the Reasonable Accommodation Procedures available in other formats?

A: Yes. As per 29 C.F.R. § 1614.203(d)(3)(i), copies of the reasonable accommodation procedures are available for job applicants and employees in written and accessible formats. Requests may be made with the individual's applicable Decision Maker. An employee wanting further information concerning these procedures, the final decision regarding their reasonable accommodation request, or the status of their reasonable accommodation request, they may contact the Persons with Disabilities Program Manager at


Q: What is an essential function?

A: Those job duties so fundamental to the position that the individual holds or desires that he or she cannot do the job without performing them are considered essential functions. A function can be essential if, among other things (1) the position exists specifically to perform that function, (2) there are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function, or (3) the function is specialized and the individual is hired based upon his or her ability to perform it. Determination of the essential functions of a position must be made on a case-by-case basis so that it reflects the job as actually performed and not simply the components of a generic position description.


Q: What is a major life activity?

A: Basic activities that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty include caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, speaking, hearing, breathing, learning, and working, as well as major bodily functions such as functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive function. (Note that this is not an exhaustive list.)


Q: What is an undue hardship?

A: A specific type of accommodation that, if granted, will cause significant difficulty or expense. A determination of undue hardship is made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors that include the nature and cost of the accommodation and the impact of the accommodation on the operation of the agency. If an undue hardship determination is made on an accommodation request, it does not have to be granted.


Q: Can I request Leave (Annual/Sick/Leave without Pay) as reasonable accommodation?

A: Yes, leave may be granted as reasonable accommodation. More information can be found here .


Q: Can I request Leave (Annual/Sick/Leave without Pay) under the Family and Medical Leave Act as reasonable accommodation?

A: No. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a separate law which provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of leave during any 12 month period for specific reasons. If an individual meets the requirements as required by the law, FMLA must be granted. This is separate from the accommodation process and should not be considered as such. More information can be found here.


Q: Am I (Supervisor) obligated to provide accommodation, such as telework, special chair/desk, computer monitor, etc., to a newly hired employee who did not disclose existence of any disability during the recruitment process, upon reporting to duty?

A: Yes. The Agency is obligated to provide reasonable accommodation for all employees and applicants that are qualified individuals with a disability, absent undue hardship. More information can be found here.


Q:  Is a prospective employee hired (having received a firm job offer) under a Schedule A hiring appointment required to submit the SF-256, Self-Identification of Disability form?

A: Participation in the disability reporting system is entirely voluntary, with the exception of employees appointed under the Schedule A Excepted Appointing Authority for People with Intellectual Disability, Severe Physical Disability, or Psychiatric Disability (5 CFR 213.3102(u)). Agencies will request that these employees identify their disability status and, if they decline to do so, their correct disability code will be obtained from medical documentation used to support their appointment. More information can be found here.


Q:  Can supervisors request medical documentation from the requesting employee to substantiate a request (for a change in duty schedule, time off, etc.)?

A: Yes. When the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations. The employer is entitled to know that the individual has a covered disability for which s/he needs a reasonable accommodation. More information can be found here.


Q:  Can an employee's new supervisor unilaterally terminate an employee's reasonable accommodation?

A: No. A reasonable accommodation may be terminated or modified if it is no longer effective or is an undue burden. Both situations require communication with the employee, consideration of alternatives, and interactive communication. The burden is on the Agency to establish that the accommodation is no longer effective or is an undue burden. More information can be found here .


Q:  Can a supervisor discuss with, or explain the reasons for an employee's accommodations to other employees within his/her chain of command (subordinates)?

A: No. An employer may not disclose that an employee is receiving a reasonable accommodation because this usually amounts to a disclosure that the individual has a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act specifically prohibits the disclosure of medical information except in certain limited situations, which do not include disclosure to coworkers. More information can be found here.


Q:  Am I required to disclose my medical condition, including prognosis, to my supervisor in order to receive reasonable accommodation?

A: No. Documentation is sufficient if it: (1) describes the nature, severity, and duration of the employee's impairment, the activity or activities that the impairment limits, and the extent to which the impairment limits the employee's ability to perform the activity or activities; and, (2) substantiates why the requested reasonable accommodation is needed. More information can be found here.


Q:  I am a computer programmer, and spend 80% of worktime in front of a computer monitor.  My doctor has told me that the only way to improve my vision is to have cataract laser surgery.  This procedure costs only a few thousand dollars, and does not cause undue hardship to the Coast Guard.   Will the Coast Guard pay for cataract surgery as reasonable accommodation?

A: No. There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:

(i) modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; or

(ii) modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or

(iii) modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity's employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Cataract surgery does not fit into any of those categories.

More information can be found here.


Q: What forms are helpful?

A: Request for Reasonable Accommodation, CG-6079.

Confirmation of Request for Reasonable Accommodation, CG-6080.

Reasonable Accommodation Decision and Reporting Form, CG-6081.      

Personal Assistance Services

Personal Assistance Services (PAS) means "assistance with performing activities of daily living that an individual would typically perform if he or she did not have a disability, and that is not otherwise required as a reasonable accommodation, including, for example, assistance with removing and putting on clothing, eating, and using the restroom." Someone providing PAS might push a wheelchair or assist someone with getting into or out of a vehicle at the worksite.

Q: Who may request a PAS?

A: The Coast Guard is only required to provide PAS to an individual if-

1. The individual is an employee of the agency;
2. The individual has a targeted disability;
3. The individual requires the services because of his or her targeted disability;
4. The individual will be able to perform the essential functions of the job, without posing a direct threat to safety, once PAS and any required reasonable accommodations have been provided; and
5. Providing PAS will not impose undue hardship on the agency.

Q: What is a Targeted Disability?

A: Targeted disabilities are a subset of conditions that would be considered disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act. The federal government has recognized that qualified individuals with certain disabilities face significant barriers to employment, which for some people may include lack of access to PAS in the workplace, that are above and beyond the barriers faced by people with the broader range of disabilities. The federal government calls these "targeted disabilities."

Note, however, that not everyone with a targeted disability will be entitled to PAS under the new regulations, because only some individuals with targeted disabilities require assistance with basic activities like eating and using the restroom. Medical conditions that are more likely to result in the need for PAS include, for example, missing limbs or paralysis due to spinal cord injury. 


Q: Can I receive a PAS to commute to work?

A: No. The Coast Guard is only required to provide PAS when the individual is working, unless he or she is on work-related travel.


Q: Does a PAS include medical services?

A: No. PAS do not include, for example, performing medical procedures (e.g., administering shots) or medical monitoring (e.g., monitoring blood pressure).


Q: Does a PAS help an individual perform their job functions?

A: No. PAS allow individuals to perform activities of daily living that an individual would typically perform if he or she did not have a disability. PAS do not help individuals with disabilities perform their specific job functions, such as reviewing documents or answering questions that come through a call-in center. PAS differ from services that help an individual to perform job-related tasks, such as sign language interpreters who enable individuals who are deaf to communicate with coworkers, and readers who enable individuals who are blind or have learning disabilities to read printed text. Those services are required as reasonable accommodations, if the individual needs them because of a disability and providing them does not impose undue hardship on the agency. An agency's obligation to provide reasonable accommodations is unaffected by the new regulations.


Q: How do I request a PAS?

A: Individuals request a PAS exactly the same way one requests a reasonable accommodation and the PAS procedure is exactly the same as the procedure for reasonable accommodations. Requests do not need to mention Section 501 or the EEOC's regulations explicitly, or use terms such as "PAS" or "affirmative action" to trigger the agency's obligation to consider the request.


Q: Can my request for a PAS be denied?

A: Yes. The Coast Guard is only required to provide PAS if the requesting employee is entitled to them under the regulations. Therefore, the Coast Guard may deny a request for PAS if-

1. The requestor is not an employee of the agency;
2. The requestor does not have a targeted disability;
3. The targeted disability does not create a need for PAS;
4. The requester is not able to perform the essential functions of the job, even with PAS and any reasonable accommodations;
5. The requester would create a direct threat to safety on the job, even with PAS and any reasonable accommodations; or
6. Providing PAS would impose undue hardship on the agency.


Q: Is my information confidential?

A: Yes, as per the Coast Guard’s reasonable accommodation procedures.


Religious Accommodation

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on religion. This includes refusing to accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious beliefs or practices unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship (more than a de minimis burden). A religious practice may be sincerely held by an individual even if newly adopted, not consistently observed, or different from the commonly followed tenets of the individual's religion. A religious accommodation is any adjustment to the work environment that will allow the employee to comply with his or her religious beliefs. The duty to accommodate will usually entail making a special exception from, or adjustment to, the particular requirement so that the employee or applicant will be able to practice his or her religion. Accommodation requests often relate to work schedules, dress and grooming, or religious expression or practice while at work.


Q: Are employers required to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of applicants and employees?

A: Yes.


Q: What does Title VII mean by "religion"?

A: Title VII defines "religion" very broadly. It includes traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It also includes religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, or only held by a small number of people.

Some practices are religious for one person, but not religious for another person, such as not working on Saturday or on Sunday. One person may not work on Saturday for religious reasons; another person may not work on Saturday for family reasons. Under Title VII, a practice is religious if the employee's reason for the practice is religious.

Social, political, or economic philosophies, or personal preferences, are not "religious" beliefs under Title VII.


Q: What are some common religious accommodations sought in the workplace?

A: Applicants and employees may obtain exceptions to rules or policies in order to follow their religious beliefs or practices. Remember that employers may grant these accommodations for religious reasons but still refuse to grant them for secular reasons. Examples of common religious accommodations include:


Q: How does an employer determine if a religious accommodation imposes more than a minimal burden on operation of the business (or an "undue hardship")?

A: Examples of burdens that are more than minimal (or an "undue hardship") include: violating a seniority system; causing a lack of necessary staffing; jeopardizing security or health; or costing the employer more than a minimal amount.

If a schedule change would impose an undue hardship, the employer must allow co-workers to voluntarily substitute or swap shifts to accommodate the employee's religious belief or practice. If an employee cannot be accommodated in his current position, transfer to a vacant position may be possible.

Infrequent payment of overtime to employees who substitute shifts is not considered an undue hardship. Customer preference or co-worker disgruntlement does not justify denying a religious accommodation.

It is advisable for employers to make a case-by-case determination of any requested religious accommodations, and to train managers accordingly.


Q: I would like to earn compensatory time to attend a religious function. How do I earn compensatory time as a form of religious accommodation?

A: Please contact your servicing Human Resources Specialist for questions regarding compensatory time and how it relates to religious accommodation.


Q: Is documentation required to substantiate a request for religious accommodation?

A: No. Documentation is not required to substantiate a request for religious accommodation. An employee or applicant need only state that they have a sincerely held religious belief or practice.


Q: How do I request religious accommodation?

A: Religious accommodation is requested by using the procedures outlined for obtaining reasonable accommodation, except there is no need for substantiating documentation.


Service Animals

Many people with disabilities use a service animal in order to fully participate in every day life. Service animals can be trained to perform many important tasks to assist people with disabilities, such as providing stability for a person who has difficulty walking, picking up items for a person who uses a wheelchair, preventing a child with autism from wandering away, or alerting a person who has hearing loss when someone is approaching from behind.


Q: What is a service animal?

A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is defined as a dog or miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the service animal must be directly related to the person’s disability.


Q: What does “do work or perform tasks” mean?

A: The service animal must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a dis­ability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a service animal that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a service animal that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a service animal that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.


Q: Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

A: No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Q: If someone’s service animal calms them when having an anxiety attack, does this qualify it as a service animal?

A: It depends. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes a distinction between psychiatric service animals and emo­tional support animals. If the service animal has been trained to sense that an anxiety attack is about to happen and take a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact, that would qualify as a service animal. However, if the service animal’s mere presence provides comfort, that would not be considered a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Q: Does the Americans with Disabilities Act require service animals to be professionally trained?

A: No. People with disabilities have the right to train the service animal themselves and are not re­quired to use a professional service animal training program.


Q: Are service-animals-in-training considered service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

A: No. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the service animal must already be trained before it can be taken into public places. However, some State or local laws cover animals that are still in training.


Q: What questions can an employer ask to determine if a service animal is a service animal?

A: In situations where it is not obvious that the service animal is a service animal, an employer may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the service animal a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the service animal been trained to perform? Employers are not allowed to request any documentation for the service animal, require that the service animal demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.


Q: Do service animals have to wear a vest or patch or special harness identifying them as service animals?

A: No. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require service animals to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.


Q: Who is responsible for the care and supervision of a service animal?

A: The handler is responsible for caring for and supervising the service animal, which in­cludes toileting, feeding, and grooming and veterinary care. Covered entities are not obli­gated to supervise or otherwise care for a service animal.


Q: Does the Americans with Disabilities Act require that service animals be certified as service animals?

A: No. Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.

There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registra­tion documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Q: Can service animals be any breed of service animal?

A: Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not restrict the type of service animal breeds that can be service animals.


Q: When can service animals be excluded?

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require covered entities to modify policies, practices, or procedures if it would create an “undue burden.” In addition, if a particular service animal is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it, or if it is not housebroken, that animal may be excluded.


Q: What does under control mean? Do service animals have to be on a leash? Do they have to be quiet and not bark?

A: The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that service animals be under the control of the handler at all times. In most instances, the handler will be the individual with a disability or a third party who accompanies the individual with a disability. In The service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public places unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the person’s disability prevents use of these devices. In that case, the person must use voice, signal, or other effective means to maintain control of the animal. For example, a person who uses a wheelchair may use a long, retractable leash to allow her service animal to pick up or retrieve items. She may not allow the service animal to wander away from her and must maintain control of the service animal, even if it is retrieving an item at a distance from her. Or, a returning veteran who has PTSD and has great difficulty entering unfamiliar spac­es may have a service animal that is trained to enter a space, check to see that no threats are there, and come back and signal that it is safe to enter. The service animal must be off leash to do its job, but may be leashed at other times. Under control also means that a service animal should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in a lecture hall, theater, library, or other quiet place. However, if a service animal barks just once, or barks because someone has provoked it, this would not mean that the service animal is out of control.


Section 504

USCG is committed to supporting the full inclusion and equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in its programs and activities, as stated by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This section states that “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States… shall, solely, by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency...”

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Q: What Instruction mandates nondiscrimination for individuals with disabilities in DHS-conducted programs and activities?

A: Instruction 065-01-001.

Q: How does this apply to me?

A: If you are interacting with members of the public, you must ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from or denied the benefits of any program or activity provided.

Q: Is this the same as a reasonable accommodation or personal assistance services?

A: No, although they are similar. A reasonable accommodation is for an employee or applicant, and is provided to enable an individual perform the essential functions and duties of their position. Personal assistance services are for employees with a targeted disability to enable them perform an activity of daily living. Section 504 compliance is for members of the public and ensures equal access to all programs and activities. All are required by law.

Q: What would be an example of a program or activity?

A: If there is an office party in which significant others are invited, there must be an accessible entrance or location provided. If there is a tour that is provided to members of the public, steps must be taken to ensure that it is accessible to all individuals.

Q: What if I cannot make my program or activity accessible because of conditions outside of my control, such as age of a building?

A: You must recreate the program or activity as much as possible in an accessible manner. For example, if a lighthouse tour has a panoramic view that is not accessible to persons with disabilities, a photograph demonstrating the view should be provided.

Q: How do I take proactive steps to ensure I am following the requirements of Section 504?

A: While planning a program or activity that will involve members of the public, ensure that accessibility concerns are addressed. Provide contact information for individuals interested in your program or activity so they may directly request or inquire regarding accessibility.

Q: How are Section 504 requests processed?

A: Although the requestor is not an employee or applicant, the procedures outlined for the reasonable accommodation process should be followed as closely as possible. Namely, the request must be acknowledged, the interactive process must take place, and a final determination must be made. Please use the CG-6079, CG-6080, and CG-6081. The request and its results will be reported in the same fashion as a normal request for reasonable accommodation. When addressing Section 504 requests, keep in mind that the solution will most likely be global in nature as opposed to specifically tailored to the individual. For example, installation of a ramp would be for the benefit of the requestor as well as any other person with a disability that requires its use. The CG-6081 must notate that it was a Section 504 request. This will then be reported to your Civil Rights Service Provider, similar to how reasonable accommodation requests are reported.

Q: Is this going to significantly increase my workload?

A: The intention of Section 504 compliance is to be proactive and avoid the need for any requests. If a program or activity is planned with full consideration of persons with disabilities, there should be no need for a request.

Q: I barely interact with the public, do I need to follow this?

A: Section 504 applies to any interaction with the public. This includes such things as inviting significant others to the office, law enforcement, and tours.

Q: Where can I get help regarding Section 504?

Please contact your local Civil Rights Service Provider for assistance regarding Section 504. Requests for assistance can also be sent to

Q: Who enforces Section 504?

A: Section 504 is enforced by the Department of Justice. More information can be found at

Q: Where can I find more information?

A: You can visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Website for more information at

Civil Rights Command Checklist

By regulation, Commanding Officers/Officers in Charge (CO/OICs) are responsible for civil rights leadership and compliance.  The Civil Rights Directorate (CRD) assists CO/OICs with these responsibilities by providing guidance and tools, such as the “Command Checklist”.  This particular tool distills all CO/OICs civil rights responsibilities described by law, regulation, Executive Order, Management Directive, and Commandant Instruction into one simple checklist, which allows commands to easily indicate whether or not their commands are compliant. Commands with 50 or more personnel are required to complete the checklist by 31 October annually.  Civil Rights Service Providers (CRSPs) are available to assist commands with achieving compliance for any element(s).

FY13 Command Checklist Elements

FY13 Command Checklist Trends

What Pre-employment Questions Should Hiring Panels Avoid

Are you looking to fill the open positions in your unit or office, and prepping to conduct interviews of the applicants?  If so, when developing those interview questions, be sure to also review what not to ask when interviewing federal employees or applicants.  Some common inappropriate questions include:

1.Are you a U.S. citizen? (adversely impacts national origin)

2.Do you have a disability?

3.Are you planning to marry/have a family? When?

4.Have you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim?

5.How many days of work did you miss last year due to illness?

6.Have you had any major health problems in the past?

7.Are you taking any prescription drugs?

8.Do you have AIDS?

9.Have you ever been treated for alcoholism?

10.Have you ever been treated for depression?

11.What off-the-job activities do you participate in?

12.Would you have a problem working with a female partner?

13.Do you have children? How old are they?

14.How old are you?

15.When do you intend to retire?

16.What is your date of birth?

17.What year did you graduate from high school? (reveals age)

18.What is your race?

19.What is your religion?

20.Are you able to work on Saturdays or Sundays? (only inappropriate if the job does not

require weekend work)

21.What is your ethnic background?

22.That is an interesting name, where is it from?

23.Do you speak English well?

24.You have a fascinating accent. Where are you from?

25.What neighborhood do you live in?

26.Tell me about your family. Do you have any kids or parents living at home with you?

27.What year did you get out of high school?

28.What is your ethnic background? (Not, "You have a nice name. Where is it from?" either.)

29.Do you have any religious activities that might be viewed negatively by your coworkers?

30.What was your attendance like at your last job? Of the days you missed, how many were for

sick leave?

31.What’s your idea of a fun party?