Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the “ADA”) requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. An accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. 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.
The duty to provide reasonable accommodation is a fundamental statutory requirement because of the nature of discrimination faced by individuals with disabilities. Although many individuals with disabilities can apply for and perform jobs without any reasonable accommodations, there are workplace barriers that keep others from performing jobs which they could do with some form of accommodation. These barriers may be physical obstacles (such as inaccessible facilities or equipment), or they may be procedures or rules (such as rules concerning when work is performed, when breaks are taken, or how essential or marginal functions are performed). Reasonable accommodation removes workplace barriers for individuals with disabilities.
In November 2003, AFGE Council 238 and U.S. EPA established National Reasonable Accommodation Procedures (NRAP) for AFGE bargaining unit employees to:
- Create national reasonable accommodation procedures that clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of employees and decision-makers to reduce continued controversy, time and money spent by the Agency on the issue of providing reasonable accommodations;
- Decrease the number of complaints and grievances filed on reasonable accommodations, which will greatly benefit the Agency and the Union;
- Create or establish a more positive direction for Labor-Management relations in order to facilitate an improved working relationship between the Agency and the Union; and) use the success resulting from these negotiations with the AFGE on the National Reasonable Accommodation Procedures (AFGE NRAP) as a an example and standard for achieving a more cooperative relationship for future negotiations on other employee issues and matters.
In January 2009, the NRAP was revised to take into account the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Please click on the following link to download the AFGE U.S. EPA NRAP (2009). This may require you to download a free copy of Acrobat Reader.