|NASA Headquarters' Directives|
Effective Date: May 25, 2016
Expiration Date: May 25, 2021
Responsible Office: LM
|Reasonable Accommodation Procedures for Individuals with Disabilities|
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Chapter 2. The Reasonable Accommodation Request and Decision Process
2.1 Initiating the Request
a. Employees may request a reasonable accommodation from their immediate supervisor or the Disability Program Manager (DPM) orally, or in writing by completing and submitting NASA Form (NF) 1699.
b. A family member, friend, health professional, or other representative may also request a reasonable accommodation on behalf of a NASA employee, subject to verification by the employee. The request is submitted to the employee’s supervisor or DPM, and the supervisor or DPM should confirm that the individual with the disability does, in fact, want a reasonable accommodation.
c. If an employee does not make the request on NF 1699, the immediate supervisor or DPM shall transfer the information to NF 1699 as soon as possible but no later than five calendar days from the date the request is received. After the NF 1699 is complete, the supervisor or DPM shall request that the employee promptly review the completed form and sign it, acknowledging that it accurately represents the employee’s request.
d. The process of requesting and receiving a reasonable accommodation decision is anticipated to be completed within 30 calendar days, however time spent to obtain and provide medical documentation (if necessary) is not counted toward the 30 calendar day timeframe.
2.2 Acknowledging the Request
a. The supervisor or DPM (i.e., who received the original request), shall notify each other within five calendar days that the reasonable accommodation request was received.
b. Within two calendar days of receipt of the reasonable accommodation request, the supervisor will send a written acknowledgment to inform the employee that the request has been received, and that he or she will be the deciding official on the request.
c. The DPM will notify the core members of the REACT (e.g., legal and HR), and will convene, if necessary to discuss the request and how best to advise the supervisor.
2.3 Interactive Discussion
a. The supervisor and the employee requesting the accommodation shall engage in an interactive discussion on the potential accommodations, and how it will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. This process can include the DPM, as needed.
b. Interactive discussion will begin within five calendar days of receiving request; this discussion should continue throughout the reasonable accommodation process.
c. During the interactive discussion, the employee should also participate, to the extent possible, in helping to identify effective accommodations that are related to the essential functions of the job.
2.4 Determining whether Medical Documentation is required
a. In situations where the employee’s disability is obvious to the Agency (e.g., the person has a hearing or visual impairment, or is in a wheel chair), there is generally no need to obtain medical documentation. The DPM will consult with the Reasonable Accommodation Team (REACT) to decide if medical documentation is necessary.
b. For those cases where medical documentation is required, the DPM shall:
(1) Make the request for medical documentation in writing as soon as possible after receipt of the reasonable accommodation request. The written request should describe the nature of the job and the essential functions the individual is expected to perform. It should also include a copy of the individual’s position description, any other relevant information about his or her job duties, and a limited medical release. The types of medical documentation that may be requested in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation may include:
(a) The diagnosis;
(b) The nature of the limitations imposed by the individual’s impairment, for example, the condition, manner, duration, or severity of the individual's impairment;
(c) The activity or activities limited by the impairment; and
(d) The reason(s) supporting the request for reasonable accommodation or the particular reasonable accommodation requested. Specifically, how the reasonable accommodation would assist the individual in performing the essential functions of the job or to enjoy a benefit of the workplace.
(2) Explain to the individual requesting the reasonable accommodation that failure to timely provide medical documentation or to cooperate with NASA's efforts to obtain such documentation may result in a delay in processing the request for reasonable accommodation and ultimately may result in a denial of the requested reasonable accommodation.
(3) Ensure consistency with requirements under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008, 42 U.S.C. § 3000ff et seq., such that all requests for medical information warn the employee and/or health care provider from whom the information is requested not to provide genetic information including family medical history.
(4) Ensure that the individual knows all records pertaining to the request for reasonable accommodation are protected by the Privacy Act.
2.5 Employees Providing Medical Documentation
a. If requested, employees may be asked to complete form 1699B, and/or provide sufficient medical documentation so that a determination can be made on whether they have a disability and to identify their functional limitations. Employees may also be asked to sign a limited release that will enable the NASA physician to contact their medical provider directly.
b. Time spent to obtain and provide medical documentation is not counted toward the 30 calendar day timeframe of processing requests for reasonable accommodation.
c. Any cost associated with obtaining medical documentation for a reasonable accommodation request is the employee’s responsibility.
d. Once the employee receives medical documentation from their physician, it should be forwarded as soon as possible to the DPM, who will forward to the NASA designated physician.
2.6 Making a Reasonable Accommodation Request Determination.
a. The Supervisor, in consultation with the DPM and Reasonable Accommodation Team (REACT), will determine if the employee is entitled to a reasonable accommodation and, if so, what effective accommodation will be approved.
b. If medical documentation was required, the DPM, in consultation with REACT will:
(1) Decide if the documentation provided is administratively sufficient and clear enough to conclude whether the individual has a disability and identifies his/her functional limitations; and/or
(2) In cases where the medical documentation provided by the employee is questionable, the DPM and REACT shall consult with the NASA designated physician to decide whether it is sufficient, or if further medical documentation is required.
c. Temporary Reasonable Accommodation Measures:
If there is a delay in providing a reasonable accommodation due to the need to obtain and/or review medical documentation; OR if there is a delay in providing a reasonable accommodation that has been approved – the supervisor, in consultation with the DPM and REACT, will determine whether temporary measures can be taken to assist the employee. This could include providing the requested reasonable accommodation on a temporary basis or providing an alternate form of accommodation until the medical documentation is reviewed or the permanent accommodation is ready.
2.7 Approving the Reasonable Accommodation Request
a. Upon determining that a reasonable accommodation will be provided, the supervisor shall immediately communicate the decision to the employee orally, and subsequently in writing, using NF 1699A within five calendar days of the approval.
b. If the supervisor does not grant a specific requested reasonable accommodation, but offers to make a different one in its place, the NF 1699A will contain an explanation of the reasons for not granting the specific reasonable accommodation requested, and the reasons that the chosen reasonable accommodation is an effective alternative.
c. Funding to support the provision of the reasonable accommodation is provided by the organization where the employee works.
d. Types of reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
(1) Making existing facilities accessible.
(2) Restructuring the job.
(3) Utilizing part-time or modified work schedules.
(4) Adjusting or modifying tests, training materials, or policies.
(5) Providing qualified readers and interpreters.
(6) Acquiring or modifying equipment, technology, or furniture.
e. NASA Headquarters' facility is under a lease agreement with the building owners. In some cases, a requested accommodation may require changes that, per the lease agreement, must receive approval from building management, which may delay implementing the accommodation.
2.8 Denying the Request for Reasonable Accommodation
a. Upon making a reasonable accommodation denial determination, the supervisor shall immediately communicate the decision orally, and subsequently in writing, using NF 1699A, to the employee within five calendar days of denial. While an employee who seeks a particular accommodation but is granted an alternative effective accommodation is considered to have had his/her request approved in part, an employee may still seek reconsideration/appeal of that decision.
(1) The explanation for the denial will be written in plain language, clearly stating the specific reasons for the denial (e.g., why the reasonable accommodation would not be effective or why it would result in undue hardship to the Agency).
(2) Supervisors will notify employees of reasonable accommodation denials and inform individuals of their right to:
(a) Engage in informal dispute resolution, including the right to request for reconsideration and appeal (see chapter 3) and
(b) Contact the EEO Office at NASA HQ within 45 days of receipt of the written notice of denial, in accordance with 29 CFR § 1614.105(a)(1).
b. Reasons for the denial of a request for reasonable accommodation may include, but are not limited to, the following:
(i) It is determined, based on the interactive discussion and in consultation with the Reasonable Accommodation Team, that the requested accommodation would not be reasonable and/or effective.
(ii) Providing the requested accommodation would result in undue hardship to the Agency.
(iii) The NASA designated physician determines the medical documentation is inadequate to establish that the individual has a disability and/or needs a reasonable accommodation.
(iv) The requested accommodation would require the elimination of an essential function of the position.
(v) The requested accommodation would require the lowering of a performance standard (e.g., safety, quality, reliability, etc.).
(vi) The requested accommodation is a safety hazard and/or would pose direct threat to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated and would be in conflict with a health and safety regulation, standard, or policy.