Date: April 1, 2003
SUBJECT: Processing Reasonable Accommodation Requests for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities
TO: All employees
Purpose of this transmittal memo. This transmits a new directive that explains NARA's policy and procedures on providing reasonable accommodations for qualified NARA employees and applicants with disabilities.
Background. Executive Order 13164 requires agencies to establish procedures for handling requests for reasonable accommodations from NARA employees and applicants. NARA processes these requests and provides accommodations within the timeframes in compliance with these procedures.
NARA's commitment. NARA is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to its employees and applicants for employment to ensure that individuals with disabilities enjoy full access to equal employment opportunity at NARA.
Availability of forms. Two forms are prescribed by this directive – NA Form 3043, Confirmation of Reasonable Accommodation Request, and NA Form 3044, Disposition of Reasonable Accommodation Request. These forms are available on NARA@work and from:
- The EEO Office at 301-837-1550;
- All EEO Counselors;
- H at 301-837-3710; and
- AFGE Council 260 (Union) at 301-837-0901.
Privacy Act system notice and records scheduling. The Privacy Act System Notice and the procedures for the retention of these records are currently being developed.
Canceled directives. Interim Guidances 94-453, Reasonable Accommodation, and 96-101, Sign Language Interpreter Services, are canceled.
Questions. For questions on this directive contact Allison Wise, Diversity Program Manager, at 301-837-0295.
JOHN W. CARLIN
Archivist of the United States
303.1 What is the purpose of this directive?
This directive provides NARA’s policy and procedures on providing reasonable accommodation for qualified employees and applicants with disabilities so these individuals may enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. It:
- Provides instructions to NARA employees and applicants who want to request a reasonable accommodation and to NARA staff who receive, coordinate, review, process, and approve requests for reasonable accommodation at NARA.
- Establishes criteria for collecting and annually reporting data on the numbers and types of reasonable accommodation requests received and processed at NARA.
303.2 Authority for this directive
- E.O. 13164 of July 26, 2000, “Requiring Federal Agencies to Establish Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation”
- 29 U.S.C. 791, The Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- 29 CFR Part 1614
- EEOC’s Policy Guidance on E.O. 13164
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Applicant - An individual who applies for employment in response to a posted job announcement.
- Decision maker - The NARA official who approves or denies the request. For an:
- Employee requesting accommodation - The decision maker, in most cases, is the employee’s immediate supervisor. However, when necessary, any supervisor in that employee’s chain of command, or the office head/staff director may serve as the decision maker.
- Applicant - The decision maker is the human resources (HR) specialist in the Office of Human Capital (H) who is assigned to process the vacancy. NOTE: If an applicant is a NARA employee and needs an accommodation in connection with applying for a position, submit the request to the HR specialist listed as point of contact on the vacancy announcement.
- Essential function - The fundamental job duties of the employment position the individual with a disability holds or seeks. Not every condition of employment is an essential function of the job merely because it is in a position description. Distinctions must be made between fundamental job duties and marginal functions of the position. Whether a particular function is essential is a case-by-case factual inquiry. Factors to consider whether a job function is “essential” include:
- Whether the position exists specifically to perform that function;
- Whether there are a limited number of other employees available among whom the performance of that job function can be distributed;
- Whether the function is highly specialized so that the individual in the position is hired for their expertise or based on the ability to perform the particular function;
- The amount of time spent on the job performing the function; and
- The consequences of not requiring the incumbent to perform the function.
- Individual with a disability - One who:
- Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities (e.g., walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, and working).
- Has a record of such an impairment; or
- Is regarded as having such an impairment.
- Qualified employee or applicant with a disability - An individual with a disability who with or without reasonable accommodation can perform the essential functions of the employment position that such an individual holds or seeks.
- Incumbent employees - Where an employee performs multiple job duties, if the employee can perform the essential functions of the position in which the employee is officially assigned, NARA determines that the employee can perform the essential functions of her or his job.
- Qualified applicants - They must satisfy the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position.
- Reasonable accommodation - Any change in the work environment, in the way things are customarily done, or in the application process that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. The three general categories of reasonable accommodation are changes to:
- The job application process to permit people with disabilities to be considered for jobs;
- Enable people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of a job; and
- Give individuals with disabilities equal access to the benefits and privileges of employment.
- Request for a reasonable accommodation – A statement that an individual needs an adjustment or change at work, in the application process, or in a benefit or privilege of employment for a reason related to a medical condition. This request does not have to use any special words, such as “reasonable accommodation,” “disability,” or “Rehabilitation Act,” and is given in writing. Applicants may make requests orally at anytime during the application process.
- Undue hardship – A situation where a specific type of reasonable accommodation causes significant difficulty or expense. A determination of undue hardship must be made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors that include the nature and cost of the reasonable accommodation needed and the impact of the reasonable accommodation on the operations of NARA.
- The Diversity Program Manager (DPM), Diversity Management Division (HD), has overall responsibility for administering the NARA-wide program, including disseminating the NARA policy to all NARA facilities and supervisors. When appropriate, the DPM advises supervisors and managers on providing reasonable accommodations. The DPM is responsible for collecting and maintaining data regarding reasonable accommodations. The DPM can receive requests for reasonable accommodations from employees.
- The Office of Human Capital (H) is responsible for:
- Accepting requests for accommodation from applicants and providing accommodations in the application process; and
- Advising the decision maker and HD in providing reasonable accommodations that involve human resource matters (e.g., changes in duties, reassignments, leave usage, and performance issues).
- Immediate supervisors, and if necessary, any other supervisor in the employee’s chain of command, and office heads/staff directors can receive requests for reasonable accommodation from employees and act as decision makers.
- Employees, applicants, or their representatives are responsible for requesting reasonable accommodations in accordance with this directive.
303.5 When does NARA provide reasonable accommodation?
- NARA provides reasonable accommodation on both a temporary and permanent basis when an:
- Applicant with a disability needs an accommodation during any part of the application or hiring process.
- Employee with a disability needs an accommodation to:
- Perform the essential functions of the job;
- Gain access to the workplace; or
- Enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
- See par. 303.26 for reasons when NARA may not provide a reasonable accommodation.
303.6 What are some examples of reasonable accommodations?
A "reasonable accommodation" may include, but is not limited to:
- Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
- Job restructuring;
- Part-time or modified work schedules;
- Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices (see subpar. 303.9d);
- Appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies;
- The provision of qualified readers or interpreters;
- Other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities; and
- Reassignment to a vacant position.
303.7 Who can request a reasonable accommodation under this directive?
Any employee or applicant who has a disability may request reasonable accommodation. A family member, health professional, or representative of an employee or applicant may request reasonable accommodation on behalf of an employee or applicant. A supervisor may also request a reasonable accommodation on behalf of their employee(s) if the employee is unaware that they are entitled to one or cannot request an accommodation on their own.
303.8 When may a request for a reasonable accommodation be made?
An employee, applicant, family member, health professional, or representative may request a reasonable accommodation at any time, even if the disability has not previously been disclosed.
303.9 How is a request for reasonable accommodation made?
- An employee or representative of the employee can make a request for reasonable accommodation orally, in writing (e.g., email), or using NA Form 3043, Confirmation of Reasonable Accommodation Request. However, if a request is made orally, the employee must follow it up with NA Form 3043. NA Form 3043 is available on NARA@work as a Word file, or from NEEO, HD, H, the Union, and the employee’s supervisor.
- An applicant can make a request for reasonable accommodation orally or in writing.
- The request does not need to include any special language, such as, “reasonable accommodation,” “Rehabilitation Act,” or “disability.” The request can be a simple statement that the employee or applicant requesting a reasonable accommodation needs an adjustment or change at work to enjoy the benefits or privileges or employment due to a medical condition.
- Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) - If an employee has a request for assistive technology devices and services, he or she must contact the CAP Point of Contact in the IT Policy and Planning Branch (ISP) to obtain the CAP Accommodation Request Form. Employees submit the completed form signed by their supervisor to the CAP Point of Contact (ISP).
303.10 To whom can a request for reasonable accommodation be made?
- An employee (or their representative), in most cases, makes a request for reasonable accommodation to their immediate supervisor. However, if necessary, an employee can make a request to any supervisor in their chain of command, the office head/staff director, or the DPM.
- An applicant must make a request for reasonable accommodation to the H staff member listed as point of contact on the vacancy announcement. If the applicant makes the request to someone other than the specialist handling the vacancy, this person must immediately forward it to the proper specialist for action.
303.11 How is a request for reasonable accommodation from an applicant processed?
Once the H staff member listed as point of contact on the vacancy announcement receives the request from the applicant, the H staff member must complete NA Form 3043 to establish a written record for reporting purposes. If the applicant makes the request to someone other than the specialist handling the vacancy, this person must immediately forward it to the proper specialist for action. There is no requirement for the applicant to submit a request in writing. The H staff member, as the decision maker, provides the reasonable accommodation, where appropriate. The H staff member then completes NA Form 3044 and forwards it to HD along with the NA Form 3043. NOTE: If an accommodation is needed after an applicant is selected, forward the request to the immediate supervisor.
303.12 How does a NARA official handle an initial request for reasonable accommodation from an employee?
- Oral requests - The NARA official receiving the request from the employee provides the employee (or their representative) with NA Form 3043 for the employee (or their representative) to complete and informs the employee who should receive the completed form. The NARA official must date and identify the decision maker on NA Form 3043 and if necessary, provide instruction and explanation on completing the form. If an employee asks for assistance in filling out NA Form 3043, the NARA official receiving the request helps the employee complete the form.
- Written requests - The NARA official receiving the written request or NA Form 3043 either acts as the decision maker and makes a decision on the request or forwards the request to the appropriate NARA official who acts as the decision maker. (See para. 303.3b for definition of a decision maker).
- The NARA official informs the employee who the decision maker is and notifies the decision maker that a request for reasonable accommodation is forthcoming.
303.13 When does NARA begin processing a request for reasonable accommodation?
An employee should submit NA Form 3043 immediately or as soon as possible; however, it is not a prerequisite for NARA to begin processing the request. (See subpar. 303.23 for specific timeframes.)
303.14 Who can act as the decision maker?
- Applicants - The HR specialist responsible for the vacancy announcement usually acts as the decision maker.
- Employees - The decision maker is typically the immediate supervisor. However, depending on the accommodation requested, any supervisor in the employee’s chain of command or the office head/staff director can act as the decision maker.
303.15 If the decision maker is not available to handle the request, who can act as the backup?
- Applicants - If the HR specialist listed as point of contact on the vacancy announcement is not available to receive and process the request for reasonable accommodation, the team leader or another HR specialist processes the request.
- Employees - If the NARA official identified on NA Form 3043 as the decision maker is not available, the request may be handled by any supervisor in the employees’ chain of command or office head/staff director.
- Questions - Contact the DPM if there is doubt as to who should handle the request.
303.16 How does the decision maker handle a request for reasonable accommodation from an employee?
The decision maker handles the request as follows:
- Reviews NA Form 3043 - The decision maker reviews NA Form 3043 with the employee and/or the representative and forwards a copy to the DPM. The decision maker and the employee and/or representative discuss the details for processing the request.
- Analyzes the employees’ specific job - The decision maker evaluates the purpose and essential functions of the employees’ job.
- Determines what type of accommodation is needed - The individual requesting the accommodation and decision maker must first communicate to answer the following questions, to determine what, if any, accommodation should be provided:
- What is the specific limitation, problem, or barrier?
- What are some possible effective accommodations? (See subpar. 303.6.)
- Identifies possible accommodations - The decision maker should identify possible accommodations.
- The decision maker is creative in searching for and considering possible accommodations, including consulting appropriate resources for assistance.
- The individual requesting the accommodation also participates in helping to identify an effective accommodation.
- Makes a decision on the request
- Grants the request - The decision maker grants the request when no medical documentation is needed and the accommodation requested is effective. The decision maker completes NA Form 3044, Disposition of Reasonable Accommodation Request, and forwards it to the DPM.
- Denies the request - The decision maker completes NA Form 3044 and forwards it to the DPM. See subpar. 303.26 for more detailed information on denials.
303.17 Who can assist the decision maker in handling the request for reasonable accommodation?
- DPM - The decision maker is encouraged to seek the advice of the DPM when processing the requests for reasonable accommodation to ensure proper handling of the request. The DPM can be helpful in advising the decision maker on possible options for accommodations.
- H – An Employee Relations Specialist can advise the decision maker and HD in providing reasonable accommodations that involve human resource matters (e.g., changes in duties, reassignments, leave usage, and performance issues).
- The RESOLVE program - The decision maker and the employee making the request have the option to use the RESOLVE program to help both parties work together to provide the most appropriate accommodation.
- Other available resources - The decision maker can use NARA resources and other resources (such as the Job Accommodations Network web site, and various disability advocacy groups) to help in the decision making.
303.18 What medical documentation can be required?
NARA may require only documentation that is needed to establish that a person has a Section 501 Rehabilitation Act/ADA disability, and that the disability necessitates a reasonable accommodation. If an individual has more than one disability, NARA can request information pertaining only to the disability that requires reasonable accommodation. NARA may require that the documentation about the disability and the function limitations come from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. The appropriate health care professional in any particular situation depends on the disability and the type of functional limitation it imposes. In requesting reasonable medical documentation, NARA must specify what types of information it is seeking regarding the disability, the functional limitations of the disability, and the need for reasonable accommodation.
303.19 Is medical documentation always required to make a decision regarding an accommodation?
No, if the disability is obvious or already known to the decision maker. The decision maker does not seek any further medical documentation if they have sufficient information and can logically conclude the employee or applicant has a disability.
303.20 How must NARA handle medical information?
NARA employees are strictly bound to the confidentiality requirements below. These requirements are in compliance with the Rehabilitation Act. NARA employees must:
- Keep medical information confidential and medical files separate from personnel files (i.e., Official Personnel File, Employee Performance File, unofficial personnel file). This requirement pertains to all medical information, including information about functional limitations and reasonable accommodation needs that NARA obtains in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation. Exceptions to this general rule include case files maintained by H.
- Disclose information only as prescribed in this paragraph. Divulging information to individuals without a need to know is a violation of the Privacy Act. If you need to disclose information, you must inform the recipients of the information about the confidentiality requirement. You must also inform the individual with the disability of the disclosure. Disclose information only in the following situations:
- Inform supervisors and managers who need to know about necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee and about the necessary accommodation(s), but only disclose medical information if strictly necessary.
- Inform first aid and safety personnel, when appropriate, if the disability might be a factor in the event of a fire, building evacuation, or require emergency treatment even if you have not previously disclosed the existence of a disability; and
- Inform Government officials of information necessary to investigate NARA’s compliance with the Rehabilitation Act.
303.21 Why is it necessary to complete NA Forms 3043 and 3044?
In order for NARA to keep accurate records for annual reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), all requests for accommodation must be documented using the NA Form 3043 and NA Form 3044. The DPM is responsible for maintaining all forms and providing the EEOC with required statistics and reports.
303.22 Is NA Form 3043 necessary for an accommodation needed on a repeated basis?
No. NA Form 3043 is only required for the initial request (e.g., the assistance of a sign language interpreter or reader).
303.23 What are the timeframes for processing a request and providing a reasonable accommodation?
NARA processes requests for reasonable accommodation and provides accommodations, where appropriate, as soon as reasonably possible. However, the time necessary to process the request depends on the nature of the accommodation requested and whether it is necessary to obtain supporting information.
- If a request for an accommodation requires no supporting medical documentation and no extenuating circumstances (see subpar. 303.24a.), the request must be processed and the accommodation provided in no more than 20 workdays from the date the decision maker received the request.
- As soon as the decision maker approves a request, the decision maker immediately notifies the individual. If immediate accommodation is not possible, the decision maker informs the individual of the projected timeframe for providing the accommodation in writing (email is acceptable).
- The decision maker must complete NA Form 3044 and submit it to the DPM within 10 workdays of the decision.
303.24 When may a decision maker extend the processing time?
Decision makers may extend the time for processing only when there are extenuating circumstances. Extenuating circumstances are factors in which unforeseen or unavoidable events prevent prompt processing and delivery of an accommodation. Extenuating circumstances cover limited situations.
- Examples of extenuating circumstances:
- There is an outstanding initial or follow-up request for medical documentation, or when NARA’s medical professional is evaluating the medical information.
- The purchase of equipment may take longer than 15 to 20 workdays. The equipment may be on back-order, or the vendor cannot promptly supply the goods or services and another vendor is not promptly available, or because of requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations.
- NARA needs to hire new staff or contract for an accommodation that involves the removal of an architectural barrier.
- The employee with a disability needs to try working with equipment on a trial basis to ensure that it is effective before NARA purchases it.
- An example of a situation that is NOT an extenuating circumstance - A staff member being unavailable.
303.25 What actions are taken if the timeframe is extended?
- Notify the individual with a disability of the delay - When a decision maker cannot meet a timeframe, the decision maker must notify the individual with a disability and the DPM in writing of the delay, the reason, and the approximate date on which a decision, or provision of the reasonable accommodation, is expected. Communicate promptly to the individual any further developments or changes.
- Use temporary measures when an approved accommodation is delayed - If there is a delay in providing an approved accommodation, the decision maker must investigate whether temporary measures can be taken to assist the employee. NARA decision makers that approve temporary measures must ensure that they do not take the place of a permanent accommodation and that all necessary steps to secure the permanent accommodation are taken.
Temporary measures include the following:
- A less effective form of accommodation - For example, there may be a delay in receiving adaptive equipment for an employee with a vision disability. During the delay, the supervisor might arrange for other employees to act as readers. This temporary measure may not be as effective as the adaptive equipment but allows the employee to perform as much of the job as possible until the equipment arrives.
- Measures that are beyond what the law requires (i.e., ADA and Rehabilitation Act) (example: temporary removal of an essential function) if:
- They do not interfere with NARA’s operations; and
- The employee is informed that the measures are temporary.
- Provide a temporary accommodation if a determination is pending receipt or evaluation of medical documentation - If NARA has not yet determined that the individual is entitled to an accommodation, the decision maker notifies the individual in writing that the accommodation is being provided on a temporary basis pending the decision.
303.26 When may a request for reasonable accommodation be denied?
Denials are made on a case-by-case basis. Seek additional information or clarification when making a decision (see par. 303.17 for a list of individuals and programs that can assist in the decision making process.). Reasons for the denial of a request for accommodation may include the following:
- The requested accommodation would not be effective (e.g., denial of reassignment – even when providing the accommodation, the employee is unable to perform the essential function(s) of the position.)
- Providing the requested accommodation would result in undue hardship (see subpar. 303.3h. for definition). Before reaching this determination the decision maker (with appropriate consultation with HD and H, as appropriate), determines whether other effective accommodations exist that would not impose undue hardship and, therefore, can be provided.
- Medical documentation is inadequate to establish that the individual has a disability and needs an accommodation.
- The requested accommodation would require the elimination of an essential function.
- The requested accommodation would require the lowering of a performance standard (examples: quantity, quality, reliability, etc.)
303.27 What is the process for denying a request for reasonable accommodation?
- As soon as the decision maker decides to deny a request for reasonable accommodation, the decision maker must complete the appropriate sections on NA Form 3044 and give it to the individual who requested the accommodation. The decision maker must also submit a copy of the completed NA Form 3044, along with any other related documentation to the DPM.
- The decision maker writes the explanation for the denial in plain language, clearly stating the specific reasons for the denial. If the decision maker has denied a specific requested accommodation, but has made a counteroffer that the requester does not agree to during the interactive process, the denial notice must explain both of the following:
- The reason for the denial of the original request; and
- The reason that the counteroffer accommodation would be most effective.
- The actual notice must include reasons for the denial, for example, why the accommodation would not be effective or cause undue hardship. (See par. 303.26 for examples of reasons for denying a request.)
- The written notice of denial also informs the individual of the right to an EEO complaint or union grievance procedures. The notice also explains NARA’s procedures available for alternative dispute resolution (See NARA 320, NARA’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program).
303.28 What recourses are available if the request for reasonable accommodation is denied?
An employee is encouraged to use their chain of command in seeking informal resolution whenever possible. However, requirements governing the initiation of statutory and collective bargaining claims remain unchanged. Individuals can choose to pursue the following statutory or collective bargaining remedies for denial of reasonable accommodation:
- For an EEO complaint, contact an EEO counselor in NEEO within 45 days from the date of receipt of the written notice of denial. If a member of NEEO has been involved in the processing of the request for reasonable accommodation, that staff member must excuse themself from any involvement in the processing of an EEO counseling contact or complaint in connection with that request.
- For a grievance under the NARA Collective Bargaining Agreement, file a written grievance in accordance with the provisions set forth in the NARA Collective Bargaining Agreement.
303.29 Does NARA keep an official record of all requests?
The DPM maintains all official records created or received during the processing of a request for reasonable accommodation. The DPM responds to all requests for disclosure of records. Decision makers must forward all documentation to the DPM as prescribed in paragraphs 303.16. However, decision makers may retain copies of all documentation for their own business purposes.
303.30 How long should records be kept?
Until these records are scheduled, all records, including electronic copies of emails and word processing files, created or received during the reasonable accommodation request process must not be destroyed. This includes records retained by decision makers. This prohibition will continue until the Archivist approves the disposition of the records. To the extent that these records are accessible by personal identifiers, they must be maintained in accordance with the Privacy Act.
303.31 Where can I find additional relevant resource material on providing a reasonable accommodation?
Contact the DPM for a list of select reasonable accommodation resources or visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website.
|Confirmation of Reasonable Accommodation Request|
1. REQUESTER’S NAME
2. ORGANIZATION CODE
3. REQUESTER’S TELEPHONE NO.
4. TODAY’S DATE
5. DATE OF REQUEST
6. NARA OFFICIAL RECEIVING REQUEST
7. NARA DECISION MAKER/ORG CODE
8. DECISION MAKER’S TELEPHONE NO.
9. ACCOMMODATION REQUESTED (Be as specific as possible, [e.g., adaptive equipment, request for an interpreter].) See NARA 303, Processing Reasonable Accommodation Requests for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities
10. REASON FOR REQUEST
11. IF ACCOMMODATION IS TIME-SENSITIVE, PLEASE EXPLAIN
-Return completed form to: HD, Diversity Program Manager
|Disposition of Reasonable Accommodation Request|
1. REQUESTER’S NAME
2. ORGANIZATION CODE
3. NARA DECISION MAKER
4. DATE OF REQUEST
▢ GRANTED (Complete #'s 6, 7, & 8)
▢ DENIED (Complete #'s 6,7,9, & 10)
6. DATE REQUEST GRANTED OR DENIED
7. TYPE(S) OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION REQUESTED
8. TYPE OF REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION GRANTED
9. REASON FOR DENIAL: (more than one box may be checked)
▢ Accommodation ineffective
▢ Accommodation would cause undue hardship
▢ Medical documentation inadequate
▢ Accommodation would require removal of an essential function
▢ Accommodation would require lowering of performance or production standard
▢ Other (Please identify) _______________________________________________
10. DETAILED REASON(S) FOR THE DENIAL (Must be specific. [e.g., why accommodation is ineffective or causes undue hardship].)
Send a copy of completed form to: Requester