How Do I Manage Disability Issues?
Typical Scenario: An employee is performing poorly at work. His job duties include reading journal articles for you and he is uncharacteristically behind. You call him into your office to talk to him about his work. He says he is bored and asks if could do more writing and less reading. Finally, he blurts out that he is rapidly losing his eyesight and is expected to be legally blind by the end of the year. You had no idea. You are stunned.
Where Do I Start?
Immediately contact NOAA's Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator (RAC), Debbie.A.Ferrara@noaa.gov. Requests need to be processed quickly to comply with Departmental policy. All requests for accommodation should be forwarded to the RAC. Supervisors should not approve or deny requests for reasonable accommodations without first contacting the RAC. The RAC serves as a resource and impartial advisor in the reasonable accommodation process. The RAC does not serve as a deciding official. Employees may contact the RAC directly with their requests.
The RAC will work with the requestor (the employee requesting an accommodation) and the deciding official (usually the immediate supervisor) to take the steps necessary to respond to the request. Sometimes the RAC helps employees and supervisors identify accommodations that will help the employee. The RAC also assists the requestor and the deciding official in reaching an agreement on an accommodation that is reasonable an accommodation that meets everyone's needs.
Maintain Strict Confidentiality
No person other than the supervisor, the employee, and the RAC should know about a request for accommodation, unless someone has a need to know. The supervisor and the RAC may need to bring those with a need to know, into the accommodation process, but the deciding official and the RAC work together to determine who those people are. Supervisors should not automatically run a request for accommodation up through the chain of command. It may not be necessary. Supervisors also may hear questions from employees about why one person has a better chair, a bigger screen, more flexible hours, etc. The only answer to these and similar questions is I am not going to discuss it.
Page last edited: January 26, 2012