As stated in the foreword of this document, the interactive process is extremely important. In the majority of situations, the individual with the disability will be able to provide information regarding the type of accommodation needed. Communication is a priority throughout the process. Most accommodation requests can be handled between the employee with a disability and the first line supervisor. However, either or both parties are permitted to include others in the interactive process if a specific limitation, problem, or barrier is unclear; where an effective accommodation is not obvious; or where the parties are choosing between different possible reasonable accommodations. The following list of resources who may be included in the process is not exhaustive, but merely an example:
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a service of the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy. JAN can provide information, free-of-charge, about many types of accommodations. JAN can be reached at 1-800-232-9675 (Voice/TTY), or via their Web Site at http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/.
There are specific considerations in the interactive process when responding to a request for reassignment. Reassignment will only be considered if no other accommodations are available to enable the individual to perform his or her current job, or if the only effective accommodation would cause undue hardship.
Reassignments are made only to vacant positions and to employees who are qualified for the new position. If the employee is qualified for the position, s/he will be reassigned to the job and will not have to compete for it.
In considering whether there are positions available for reassignment, the decision maker will work with the agency’s personnel office or the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) and the individual requesting the accommodation to identify:
(1) all vacant positions within the agency for which the employee may be qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation; and, if none exist, all vacant positions within the Department for which the employee may be qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation; and
(2) all positions which personnel or OHRM has reason to believe will become vacant over the next 60 business days and for which the employee may be qualified.
The decision maker will first focus on positions that are equivalent to the employee’s current job in terms of pay, status, and other relevant factors. If there is no vacant equivalent position, the decision maker will consider vacant lower level positions for which the individual is qualified. Reassignment will be made to a vacant position outside of the employee’s commuting area if the employee is willing to relocate. As with other transfers not required by management, USDA is not obligated to pay for the employee’s relocation costs.
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