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 http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg00/cg00h/ServiceProviders.asp 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 CivilRightsRA@uscg.mil.
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.