Effective Date: April 22, 2019
Expiration Date: April 22, 2024
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The types of actions that can be taken in connection with reasonable accommodations can best be determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the employee, his/her specific disability and the resulting limitations, the essential duties of the particular job, the work environment, and the feasibility of the proposed accommodation. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
6.1.1. Background. On January 3, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) amended the regulations implementing Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 501), the law that prohibits the Federal Government from discriminating in employment on the basis of disability and requires it to engage in affirmative action for people with disabilities. As part of the Agency’s obligation to engage in affirmative action, Federal agencies are required by the new regulations to provide Personal Assistance Services (PAS), in addition to reasonable accommodations, to employees who need them because of certain disabilities. See 29 C.F.R. § 1614.203(d)(5). PAS are services that help individuals who, because of certain targeted disabilities, require assistance to perform basic activities of daily living, such as eating and using the restroom, to fully participate in the workplace. Beginning on January 3, 2018, Federal agencies are required to provide PAS to both existing and new employees with targeted disabilities regardless of when the employee was hired, provided the employee meets the criteria for PAS.
6.1.2 PAS is defined as assistance in the work environment with performing activities of daily living that an individual with targeted disabilities would typically perform if he/she did not have a disability and that is not otherwise required as a reasonable accommodation (e.g., providing assistance with removing and putting on clothing, eating, using the restroom, getting into or out of a vehicle at the worksite).
6.1.3 Targeted disabilities are a subset of conditions that would be considered disabilities under the Rehabilitation Act and for which qualified individuals with certain disabilities (e.g., such as blindness, deafness, paralysis, cerebral palsy, convulsive disorders, and mental illnesses, among others) have faced significant barriers to employment that are above and beyond the barriers faced by people with the broader range of disabilities. (See the Office of Personnel Management, Self-Identification of Disability Form (SF 256, Oct 2016) for a complete list of targeted disabilities.)
6.1.4 PAS is provided, in addition to reasonable accommodations, to employees with targeted disabilities as defined by EEOC unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the Agency. 22 The Agency’s process for requesting PAS, the process for determining whether such services are required, and the Agency's right to deny such requests when provision of the services would pose an undue hardship, is identical to the interactive accommodation process described in Chapter 3.
6.1.5 PAS do not help employees with targeted disabilities perform their specific job functions, such as services required as a reasonable accommodation to help an individual perform job-related tasks. For example, services provided as a reasonable accommodation, but not PAS, are sign language interpreters who enable individuals who are deaf to communicate with coworkers and readers who enable individuals who are blind or have learning disabilities to read printed text. These services are required as reasonable accommodations if the individual needs them because of a disability and providing them does not impose undue hardship on the Agency.
6.1.6 As noted above, the provision of PAS for activities of daily living is not considered a reasonable accommodation, but PAS requests are processed like accommodation requests. An employee with a targeted disability may request PAS by informing his/her immediate supervisor or the DPM that he/she needs assistance with daily life activities because of a medical condition. The employee does not need to mention Section 501 or the EEOC's regulations explicitly, or use terms such as "PAS" or "affirmative action" to trigger the Agency's obligation to consider the request.
6.1.7 When an employee makes a request for PAS, the interactive process described in Chapter 3 is initiated.
6.1.8 PAS is only provided to an employee if all of the following criteria are met:
a. The individual is an employee of the Agency;
b. The individual has a targeted disability;
c. The individual requires the services because of his/her targeted disability 23 ;
d. The individual shall be able to perform the essential functions of his/her job, without posing a direct threat to safety, once PAS and any required reasonable accommodations have been provided; and
e. Providing PAS shall not impose undue hardship on the Agency.
6.1.9 The Agency is not required to provide medical care, for example, performing medical procedures (e.g., administering shots) or medical monitoring (e.g., monitoring blood pressure).
6.1.10 The Agency recognizes the sensitive nature of these personal services and any requests for personal care can be discussed in a confidential consultation with the employee’s supervisor or the DPM.
6.1.11 The individual who provides PAS is referred to as a Personal Attendant (PA). The Agency may use Federal employees, independent contractors, or a combination of employees and contractors as a PA. The PA shall not perform any of the employee’s essential or non-essential duties. 6.1.12 NASA employees should not independently provide PAS for a co-worker, unless approval has been provided by the supervisor in consultation with the Center EEO, HR, and legal offices.
6.1.13 If the employee prefers a particular provider (e.g., because the provider has worked with the employee in the past), the Agency shall give primary consideration to the employee's choice to the extent permitted by law. It may not, however, be possible to honor the employee’s preferences in all cases.
6.1.14 An employee may request permission to bring his/her own PAS provider to work as a reasonable accommodation if the employee does not request that the Agency assume the cost of providing the services. If the employee wants the Agency to assume the cost of providing the services, however, the Agency may have reasons to choose a different provider.
6.1.15 Once the PAS services have been put in place, an employee shall notify their supervisor or the DPM if there are any changes needed to the services. The supervisor or DPM shall work with the employee to address the needed changes. Changes in the type, manner, or frequency of service cannot be made without consultation with and approval of the DPM.
6.1.16 When the Agency's assignment of work-related travel results in an employee's inability to rely on his/her usual source of PAS, the Agency shall provide PAS during that work-related travel as a reasonable accommodation, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the Agency. Additionally, even if an employee's usual PAS provider is available during work-related travel, the Agency shall pay any additional costs related to providing PAS while on travel, such as transportation costs for the PAS provider, as a reasonable accommodation.
6.1.17 When an employee who has been approved to receive PAS makes a new request for PAS as an accommodation while on travel, the interactive accommodation process described in Chapter 3 is initiated. Subsequent requests by the same employee shall be reviewed for any changes, and if there are any changes, the description of the reasonable accommodation provided shall be updated.
6.1.18 Putting PAS in place for an employee on official government travel requires sufficient lead time prior to the date of travel. Once the analysis and interactive process has taken place and the services are agreed upon, the vendor shall put the services in place in compliance with the terms of the agreement.
6.1.19 The employee shall notify the DPM immediately if there are any changes to the travel itinerary or the services requested. The DPM shall work with the employee and PAS provider to address these changes.
6.1.20 The Agency has the discretion to authorize the use of its funds for payment of salary and other necessary expenses that may be incurred by a family member or PA, who accompanies an employee with a disability on official travel, and who meets the identified criteria for PAS in Section 6.1.6. Any action taken under this section of the NPR by the Decision Maker shall be taken in coordination with the Center’s Chief Financial Office.
6.1.21 Each trip taken by an employee is considered a unique event and is carefully considered to determine how to best provide an accommodation. For example, one trip might involve a single overnight stay and accommodation, while another might involve multiple weeks of travel and accommodations.
6.2.1 The Agency’s travel accommodations are provided in “Travel Requirements” (NPR 9710.1), which covers travel accommodations for individuals with disabilities and special needs based on the Government-wide travel regulation (41 C.F.R. § 301-70.400). (See NPR 9710.1.)
6.3.1 Under the Federal Management Regulations (FMR), employees with severe disabilities have first priority for employee parking spaces in federally controlled areas. 41 CFR § 102–74.285 and 41 CFR § 102–74.305. Therefore, Federal agencies such as NASA shall assign available parking spaces to employees with severe disabilities first. The FMR defines “severe disability” as a severe, permanent impairment that for all practical purposes precludes the use of public transportation, or an employee who is unable to operate a car as a result of permanent impairment, or who is driven to work by another individual. At NASA, parking spaces may also be for employees and job applicants with disabilities, permanent and temporary, that don’t qualify as severe under the FMR, based on the availability of parking spaces at a facility.
6.3.2 Reasonable accommodations for parking may include an assigned parking space that is:
a. Close to the entrance of the building;
b. On an accessible route;
c. Close to the employee’s office;
d. Next to an access aisle to allow the employee to exit the vehicle;
e. In an otherwise first-come, first-served parking lot;
f. Available for a van with a wheelchair ramp or lift; and/or
g. Covered or inside.
6.3.3 Making a Request. Under most circumstances, an employee should submit a written request for a parking reasonable accommodation using NF 1699 - Reasonable Accommodations Request Form (Appendix F) or its equivalent to the DPM. To receive guidance relating to functional limitations or alternatives based on the type of disability, the DPM shall consult with the NASA Physician and the building/parking office, when appropriate.
6.3.4 In accordance with Section 2.5.3 of this NPR, the DPM in consultation with the building/parking office shall process parking-related accommodations. The employee may be required to provide medical documentation or additional information consistent with Chapter 3 of this NPR.
6.3.5 Payment for Parking. If employees are generally required to pay for parking, individuals with disabilities who receive a parking priority or reasonable accommodation are also required to pay such fees.
6.4.1 The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968 requires that buildings or facilities that were designed, built, or altered with Federal dollars or leased by Federal agencies be accessible.
6.4.2 The procedures for processing a request relating to the accessibility of a NASA facility shall follow the interactive accommodation process described in Chapter 3 of this NPR.
6.4.3 This type of accommodation is available to NASA employees and in certain instances contractors who may be located in premises owned and/or operated by NASA. In the event that an individual has a reasonable accommodations request that requires making physical changes to a NASA building or work space utilized by that individual, the individual shall make the request directly to the DPM. The DPM shall collaborate with the appropriate building facility office and the contractor employer, as appropriate under the circumstances, to review the request. The EEO Director shall be consulted before any decision is made regarding the accommodations request.
6.4.4 The individual may be required to provide medical documentation or additional information consistent with Chapter 3 of this NPR.
6.4.5 The DPM in consultation with the building facility office shall provide the requestor with a written decision using NF 1699A or its equivalent and provide the EEO Director with a copy of the record.
6.4.6 For NASA employees who may be located in premises not owned and/or operated by NASA, requests for accommodation dealing with these building facilities should be directed to the appropriate personnel that manages and/or operates those premises, and a copy should be provided to the EEO Director and DPM. Complaints related to building accessibility shall be processed under 29 CFR § 32, which covers Federally-assisted programs receiving financial assistance. (See Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs of NASA, 14 CFR § 1250.)
6.4.7 The DPM shall monitor requests for building-related accommodations.
6.5.1 Reassignment shall be considered as a reasonable accommodation of last resort – i.e., only if no other accommodation enables an employee to perform the essential functions of his/her current position. This type of accommodation is available only to NASA employees, including in certain instances probationary employees, but not applicants. An employee’s rejection of a reasonable accommodation or effective alternative accommodation does not make an employee eligible for reassignment. The Agency is not required to create new positions or move employees to create a vacancy.
6.5.2 The DPM in consultation with the Reasonable Accommodations Team shall determine if an employee’s reasonable accommodation request qualifies for consideration for reassignment. If the determination is made that the employee qualifies for reassignment, the DPM shall provide the employee with the written Employee Notification Letter stating that no other reasonable accommodation has been effective in assisting the employee in performing the essential functions of his/her position without causing an undue hardship for the Agency. The DPM shall provide the Employee Notification Letter to the employee within five calendar days of this determination. (See Appendix F, Forms - Sample Employee Notification Letter.)
6.5.3 Employees seeking reassignment shall complete NF 1699C, Reassignment Preference Form or its equivalent and submit it along with an updated resume, supporting medical documentation, and a medical release (if appropriate) to the DPM within ten calendar days of receipt of the Employee Notification Letter referenced in Section 6.5.2. (See Appendix F, Forms.)
6.5.4 Upon receipt of the employee’s Reassignment Preference Form, the DPM shall collaborate with the Center’s HRO and the Reasonable Accommodations Team to assess the employee’s request for reassignment to a vacant, funded position. A position is considered “vacant, funded” when a request to initiate a recruitment action has been received in the Center’s HRO. The DPM shall review the employee’s Reasonable Accommodation file and shall contact the employee’s supervisor to confirm that the reasonable accommodation process occurred consistent with Chapter 3 of this NPR. The DPM shall follow the process outlined in Chapter 3 for processing accommodation requests prior to processing the employee’s request for reassignment. If the employee has participated in the reasonable accommodation process, the HRS in partnership with the DPM shall promptly notify the Office of Human Resources at each Center to initiate a Vacant Funded Search (VFS) within ten calendar days of notice of the employee’s request.
6.5.5 The Vacant Funded Search (VFS)
22.214.171.124 The VFS shall conclude after 60 calendar days from the date that the search began. The goal is to identify vacant, funded positions that would be suitable for the employee. The search process ends when the employee either accepts or declines a position or upon the passage of 60 calendar days from the date that the search began.
126.96.36.199 An employee must be qualified for the new position. An employee is qualified for a position if he/she: satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position, and can perform the essential functions of the new position, with or without reasonable accommodation. The employee does not need to be the best qualified individual for the position in order to obtain it as a reassignment. There is no obligation for the employer to assist the individual to become qualified or to provide training so that the employee acquires necessary skills to take a job. The employer would have to provide an employee with any training that is normally provided to anyone hired for or transferred to the position.
6.5.6 For purposes of these procedures, there are three types of reassignments for which an employee may be eligible:
a. Reassignment to a vacant, funded equivalent position at the same Center. The Center’s Office of Human Resources shall first consider vacant, funded positions, for which the employee is qualified, in the same Center that are equivalent to the employee’s current position in terms of pay, grade, status, and other relevant factors (e.g., benefits). This process factors in the employee’s completed Reassignment Preference Form (Appendix F).
b. Reassignment to a vacant, funded equivalent position at a different Center. If there is no vacant, funded equivalent position at the same Center, the Center’s Office of Human Resources shall consider vacant, funded equivalent positions for which the employee is qualified at a different Center. This option will only be considered if the employee indicated a willingness to consider such positions on the Reassignment Preference Form.
c. Reassignment to a lower-graded position at the same Center or a different Center. Employees who elect to accept a position at a lower grade or pay as a reasonable accommodation are not eligible for grade or pay retention.
6.5.7 Reassignment may be made to a vacant, funded position outside of the employee’s commuting area if the employee has indicated a willingness to relocate on the Reassignment Preference Form. If an employee is being reassigned to a different geographical area, the employee must pay for any relocation expenses unless the Agency routinely pays such expenses when granting voluntary transfers to other employees.
6.5.8 If a vacant, funded position is identified during the search, the DPM shall collaborate with the Center’s Office of Human Resources and the Reasonable Accommodations Team (at both the requesting and receiving Centers, if an inter-Center reassignment is being considered) to:
a. Compare the essential functions of the position(s), with or without accommodation, to the employee’s demonstrated skills, experience, and knowledge reflected in his/her resume; and
b. Obtain a medical assessment, if necessary, to determine whether the requirements of the position exceed the limitation of the employee, physically or psychologically.
188.8.131.52 The determination of the minimum qualification standards for the position resides with the Center’s Office of Human Resources.
6.5.9 If an inter-Center reassignment is being considered, the Agency’s DPM shall assist in the facilitation of this collaborative process with the Center DPM, the OHR, and the Reasonable Accommodations Team at both the requesting and receiving Centers.
6.5.10 If more than one one vacant, funded position is identified, the DPM in collaboration with the Center’s Office of Human Resources and the Reasonable Accommodations Team shall consider the employee's preferences and the Agency’s needs in determining which position to offer the employee. In all cases, however, the Assistant Administrator, Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) or his/her designee has the ultimate discretion to determine which position to offer the employee.
6.5.11 If the DPM, the Center’s Office of Human Resources, and the Reasonable Accommodations Team determines that the employee meets the qualifications for the identified position; that the employee can perform the essential functions of the identified position with or without accommodation; and that there is no undue hardship to the Agency, the DPM shall share a written offer for the position and the position description with the employee within five calendar days of this determination. The employee has up to ten calendar days from the date of the offer to accept or refuse.
6.5.12 If the DPM, the Center’s Office of Human Resources, and the Reasonable Accommodations Team determine that the employee does not meet the qualifications for the identified position; that the employee cannot perform the essential functions of the identified position with or without an accommodation; or that there is an undue hardship to the Agency, the employee’s request for reassignment shall be denied and documented by the employee’s supervisor on NASA Form 1699A. The DPM shall provide this document to the employee accompanied by a notice of the employee’s rights and avenues for redress.
6.5.13 If the employee declines a position, the search is closed and the reassignment efforts are concluded as described in Section 6.5.16.
6.5.14 If the employee fails to respond within ten calendar days upon receipt of the notice described above in Section 6.5.11, the DPM shall administratively close the reasonable accommodation process in accordance with Section 3.2.11 of this NPR.
6.5.15 In the event that there are conflicting determinations between the requesting and receiving Center regarding whether an employee is qualified for a position and can perform the essential functions of a position or whether a position is offered to an employee under these procedures, the Assistant Administrator for NASA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO) or his/her designee shall make the final determination.
6.5.16 At the conclusion of the search period, one of the following shall occur: a. If the employee has accepted a position, the DPM shall provide the employee with a written decision using NF 1699A or its equivalent. This decision shall be drafted by the employee’s supervisor in consultation with the DPM and the Office of Human Resources of the requesting Center. Once an employee accepts a position, the DPM and the Office of Human Resources of the receiving Center shall collaborate to place the employee in the new position. No one should be told that the employee was placed in the new position as a reasonable accommodation and/or that the employee has a disability, except on a need to know basis for purposes of implementing the reasonable accommodation process outlined in Chapter 3 of this NPR.
b. If the employee has not accepted any position or no vacant, funded position has been identified, the Center’s Office of Human Resources shall summarize the search results on NF 1699A or its equivalent, provide the date that reassignment efforts closed, and identify remaining options for the employee and the Agency to consider. Under these circumstances, the Agency may determine that the employee is medically unable to perform the essential functions of the current position and propose the employee's removal on this basis.
6.5.17 All management decisions in the reassignment process shall be provided by the employee’s first-level supervisor or a manager in the employee’s chain of command to the employee on NF 1699A or its equivalent and accompanied by a notice of the employee’s rights and avenues for redress.
6.5.18 Employees are expected to participate in the reassignment process in good faith. An employee’s failure to respond and provide the requested information within the prescribed timeframes in these procedures, absent extenuating circumstances, shall result in the administrative closure of the employee’s request for reasonable accommodation or other action in accordance with Section 3.2.11 of this NPR. The DPM should make reasonable efforts to contact the employee and determine the reasons for the employee’s non-responsiveness to the extent possible.
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