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When you are suffering from a condition that makes it difficult for you to perform the essential functions of your position you are entitled to reasonable accommodation from a federal agency.

But that duty to make a reasonable accommodation doesn’t cover making an accommodation to look after the spouse of a federal worker, a recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hearing has reiterated.

On Feb. 12, 2013 the EEOC heard an appeal in the case of Rose Marie Davis, Complainant, v. Ken L. Salazar, Secretary, Department of the Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs), Agency.

The Complainant had filed an appeal from an Agency final decision, dated August 21, 2012, regarding an EEOC complaint claiming employment discrimination in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

She worked as the education program administrator at the Agency’s Turtle Mountain Education Line Office (ELO) in Belcourt, North Dakota. She was responsible for four schools, four principals, and a staff of approximately 30 employees.

“According to the Bureau of Indian Education Chief of Staff, accountability issues arose regarding how the funds from various sources were being managed. Complainant allocated $1.6 million for building repairs, a new boiler, security alarm system, and sidewalk repaving. However, some tribal council representatives wanted the Agency to re-issue the funds to the tribe,” stated the case notes.

The complainant was reassigned to another position, but she complained her reassignment was discriminatory.

She also stated she was entitled to a reasonable accommodation to allow her to care for her husband who had a disability. The Agency said the Rehabilitation Act does not require it to provide a reasonable accommodation to allow an employee to look after a spouse.

The EEOC did not find disparate treatment.

“Complainant has not established a nexus between her age, sex, and national origin and management’s decision to reassign her to Pine Ridge,” it stated.

The EEOC noted the Commission has held individuals with a relationship or association with a person with a disability are not entitled to receive reasonable accommodations under EEOC s Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The commission affirmed the Agency’s final decision finding no discrimination in the case.

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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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