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The Rehabilitation Act / ADA –

If you are disabled under the Rehabilitation and you require a reasonable accommodation, the agency must provide you with that reasonable accommodation unless they can show that there is another less expensive effective accommodation or they can show that accommodating you would be an “undue hardship” on the agency. See the EEOC’s interpretation below:

Undue Hardship

“‘Undue hardship’ means significant difficulty or expense and focuses on the resources and circumstances of the particular employer in relationship to the cost or difficulty of providing a specific accommodation. Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. An employer must assess on a case-by-case basis whether a particular reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship. The ADA’s “undue hardship” standard is different from that applied by courts under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for religious accommodation.”

-Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Number 915.002, October 17, 2002.

This definition is what makes Reasonable Accommodation cases the most favorable for federal employees. Notice the words in bold above. If you were looking for the an employer that has the most resources and ability to accommodate your request for accommodations, who do you think would be the biggest and richest employer to choose!?!?! You guessed it – One the largest employers in the world? The United States federal government, which is the same agency, that holds itself out to be a “Model Employer” for EEO purposes.

So what does that mean for the disabled federal employer? This means that it will be and is very difficult for the federal government to argue that an accommodation is an undue hardship, not impossible, but as far as EEO discrimination cases go, in this area the law is on your side!

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Eric L. Pines is a nationally recognized federal employment lawyer, mediator, and attorney business coach. He represents federal employees and acts as in-house counsel for over fifty thousand federal employees through his work as a federal employee labor union representative.

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