Federal Reasonable Accommodation Lawyer in Houston
Providing Legal Counsel Nationwide
If you are a disabled federal employee with mental or physical disabilities and require reasonable accommodations in the workplace, our legal team is dedicated to helping you with federal claim filing procedures in order to obtain the outcome you desire. With over 60 years of collective experience, our Houston federal reasonable accommodation lawyer at Pines Federal possesses a comprehensive understanding of Texas and federal laws to help you navigate through any legal complexities related to your case. Reach out today.
- Why Choose Pines Federal?
- Does the Federal Government Consider Me Disabled?
- What is a "Qualified" Federal Employee for a Disability Reasonable Accommodation Request
Available Accommodation Options for Federal Employees
There are many accommodation options available, depending on the severity of the disability and other factors.
If you are disabled according to the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA, the agency is required to provide reasonable accommodations such as:
- Telecommuting/working from home
- Physical accommodations at the workplace
It is important to note that the employing agency must accommodate you with an accommodation that is effective, but not necessarily the best accommodation or the one that you request.
The Requirement of Providing Reasonable Accommodations
Your employer has an obligation to provide you with a reasonable accommodation if you have a disability. The employer need not provide the accommodation if it presents an undue hardship in terms of cost and adjustments. This can be based on the employer’s size, resources and needs. An accommodation is acceptable if it is close to what the employee needs. Examples of this include:
A reasonable accommodation is a change in the working environment to enable you to do the job, such as providing:
- Wheelchair access
- Readers for visually impaired workers
- Modified work schedules or air temperature
- Periodic breaks
- Working at home
- A private area to take self-medical tests
- Extra training
- A detailed schedule for completing tasks
Requests for Reasonable Accommodation
A reasonable accommodation is a change an employer makes to the work environment, schedule or procedures to help a disabled employee perform necessary job functions or important life activities in the workplace. The accommodation should make it easier for the employee to successfully perform the duties of the position. However, these changes must not impose an undue hardship, such as being too expensive or difficult to grant, on the employer.
Examples of reasonable accommodations include the following:
- Provide interpreters, readers, or other personal assistance
- Modify work station
- Wheelchair accessibility
- Accessible parking
- Provide flexible work schedules or worksites
- Provide accessible technology
The Process of Requesting Accommodations for Federal Employees
Employees of federal agencies are afforded the same protections against disability discrimination that non-federal employees enjoy, and in some instances, even more protections. Federal employees receive protection under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which applied the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to federal employees. Although this protection is guaranteed to federal employees, the process of obtaining adequate accommodations for disabilities or OPM disability benefits can be complex.
At Pines Federal, our federal employee lawyers can help you with every step of the process, including:
- Determining whether you have a disability: The first step, of course, is determining whether you have a disability. Although this seems like a simple determination, the answer changes based on whether you are seeking OPM disability, or just reasonable accommodations. To qualify for accommodations, you must establish that you have a disability as officially defined by the ADA and that you can still perform the essential functions of your job if given reasonable accommodations. The more recent Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) has made it easier than ever for employees to qualify. The standards for OPM disability are stricter, since these benefits are for those who cannot perform the essential functions of their job as a result of the disabilities.
- Informing employer of disability/providing medical proof: This can be a formal process involving a reasonable accommodation request form, or a more informal discussion with your office supervisors or managers. At this point, the agency can request medical proof of your disabilities. Pines Federal Attorneys can assist you with determining how much medical information an agency can request, and at what point your agency has asked for too much.
- The “Interactive Process”: The “Interactive Process” is the technical name for discussions with your supervisor, or the Equal Employment Opportunity/Civil Rights Officer for your employer, regarding your need for medical accommodations (reasonable accommodation). The agency must engage in a back-and-forth discussion, as the parties attempt to negotiate the most mutually equitable solution.
- Undue hardship: For every federal employee who has a legitimate disability but who can also perform the essential job duties with reasonable accommodations, the employing agency is required to provide them with effective accommodations, unless doing so would cause the agency undue hardship. However, since the employer in these cases is essentially the federal government, this hardship argument rarely carries much weight. Still, if you meet resistance, you will need to request another discussion about your accommodations or file a case with your agency’s local EEOC/Civil Rights Office. Making the determination as to whether you should file a case is where our office comes in. We are here to help you determine if you have a legal entitlement to the accommodation you are requesting (and even assist you with determining what the best accommodation might be). We are also here to tell you when it is time to file a case against your agency.
What If No Accommodation Is Possible?
If it would be impossible for you to fulfill your essential functions at work even with these accommodations, or if providing accommodations would somehow present an undue hardship on the agency, you could seek:
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave: This can be helpful if you have a temporary disability. FMLA will allow you to be absent from work and not disciplined for taking leave for 12 weeks. Although you will not be paid, your employer cannot discharge you or discipline you as a result of your leave.
- OPM Disability Retirement: This would be appropriate for long-term disability. OPM Disability is an early retirement option for disabled federal employees. OPM will pay you a monthly annuity based on your salary.
The line between a disability that can be accommodated and one that requires OPM disability is not always clear, and having an expert on your side can be invaluable for a federal employee who is already suffering a medical hardship. Often your human resources and EEO officer do not act in accordance with law and regulation. Having an expert to assist you at this time is essential.
It is noteworthy that sometimes, when an agency cannot provide reasonable accommodations, it may terminate the employee for disciplinary reasons, leaving the employee with great difficulty in seeking OPM disability benefits. If this happens to you, we can help you work with your agency to make sure you are in a much better position to obtain your OPM Disability Retirement benefits.
- Related: Federal Employees May Request Leave as a Reasonable Accommodation
- Essential Functions and Reasonable Accommodation
- What is Undue Hardship?
A Federal Reasonable Accommodation Attorney Can Help
Managers and supervisors are not allowed to discriminate or otherwise ignore reasonable requests from their employees, or to retaliate if any requests for reasonable accommodation have been made. At Pines Federal, our Houston federal reasonable accommodation lawyer understands what it takes to aggressively protect your rights if you experienced discrimination or are concerned about your rights in regards to requests for reasonable accommodation. We have a reputation for being trusted and committed advocates, so do not hesitate to reach out to us immediately.
- Do I need to request Reasonable Accommodation if I want OPM Disability Retirement?
- Reasonable Accommodation vs. OPM Disability
- How Much Must the Agency Pay to Reasonably Accommodate Me?
- The V.A. Wrongly Denied Reasonable Accommodation Request for Service Chief to Telework
Contact Pines Federal at (888) 898-9902 and schedule a confidential consultation with our Houston federal employee attorney today.
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Committed to Our Clients
Our attorneys bring unmatched experience, dedication, tenacity, sensitivity, and personal commitment to the table for every individual we represent.
Our firm has garnered a reputation as committed advocates for representing employees of any federal agency with an emphasis on helping disability and veterans administration employees.
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Our attorneys have been fiercely protecting the rights of employees for decades and have a stunning track record and a proven success rate.
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