The Department of Agriculture (USDA) recognizes that all its employees need the tools necessary to be productive, and that making reasonable accommodation is simply a way of providing the tools needed to accomplish its mission. An employee with a disability need only request an accommodation of the immediate or first line supervisor, who, in many instances is authorized via these procedures to provide the accommodation.
This manual sets forth the procedures to be used, if necessary, when considering the provision of reasonable accommodation to employees and applicants with disabilities. In the majority of situations, providing a reasonable accommodation is simple, quick and inexpensive. The procedures set forth in this manual shall be used for record keeping purposes to document reasonable accommodation requests, grant or deny requests. The procedures shall also be used to request documentation in cases when the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious.
Requests for accommodation must be considered on a case-by-case basis, and, in the majority of cases, can be resolved between employee and supervisor. It is imperative for the employee with a disability to be involved and consulted regarding specific accommodations needed and other aspects of reasonable accommodation through an interactive process. These procedures outline who may be involved in this interactive process.
USDA agencies have been directed to establish central funds for accommodations within their own budgets so that agenciesí individual offices or units are not reluctant to fund accommodations that cost money. Although some accommodations, (e.g., equipment, hardware, software) may cost money, many others (e.g., alternative work schedules, leave, modifying policy or procedures, relocating an office) to name a few, cost little or nothing to implement. Therefore, using monetary cost as a basis for an undue hardship claim is not easily defensible.
USDA is committed to a simple and streamlined process for providing reasonable accommodation. As a model employer and pursuant to Departmental Regulation (DR) 4300-8, USDA may take steps, as appropriate, beyond those required by the reasonable accommodation process.
These reasonable accommodation procedures will help make USDA the "Employer of Choice".
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