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The Secret Service provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process, please notify the agency by calling 202-406-5800, 1 888-813-USSS (8777) or via TTY at 202-406-5390. Decisions on granting reasonable accommodation are made on a case-by-case basis.
It is the policy of the United States Secret Service to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified employees and job applicants with disabilities adhering to applicable federal regulations and guidelines. The agency shall provide reasonable accommodation for the known physical or mental limitations of qualified employees and applicants with disabilities, unless the agency can demonstrate that a particular accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its programs.
The purpose of this policy is to revise and update the Secret Service policy concerning the reasonable accommodation of qualified employees and applicants with disabilities. This policy is also intended to establish written procedures with respect to providing such reasonable accommodations, and to meet the requirements of Executive Order (EO) 13164.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title 29 of the United States Code §§ 701, et. seq. as amended, (requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, except when such accommodation would cause undue hardship.)
Title 29, C.F.R. 1630 (1997) (regulations to implement the Equal Employment provisions of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)).
Interpretive Guidance accompanying the Title I regulations (also known as the "Appendix" to the regulations), 29 C.F.R. 1630.2(o), (p), and 1630.9 (1997).
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance including,
EO 13164, Requiring Federal Agencies to Establish Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation (July 26, 2000), requires that Federal agencies establish effective written procedures for processing requests for reasonable accommodation.
EEOC Policy Guidance on Executive Order 13164, Establishing Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation, No. 915-003 (October 20, 2000), (explains EO 13164 in detail).
EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the American's with Disabilities Act (October 17, 2002), (clarifies the rights and responsibilities of employers and individuals with disabilities regarding reasonable accommodation and undue hardship).
EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees (explains when it is permissible for employers to make disability-related inquiries or require medical examinations of employees).
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation.
All employees of the Secret Service and applicants for employment with the Secret Service.
An individual who has authority to determine whether a requested accommodation will be provided.
The Deciding Official in applicant cases will be the Personnel Division Deputy Chief for Staffing and Classification, or the Personnel Division Recruitment Program Manager.
The Deciding Official in employee cases will be the employee's first line supervisor or higher, or in the case of the Uniformed Division, the appropriate supervisor or higher. In the case of all trainees, the Deciding Official should be the Special Agent In Charge of the James J. Rowley Training Center. In the case of the Uniformed Division, the appropriate Captain or higher should be the Deciding Official.
Dispute Resolution Process
A voluntary mechanism through which an individual can request reconsideration of denial of reasonable accommodation, regardless of whether the person has started the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint process.
The essential functions of a position are those job duties that are so fundamental to the position that the individual cannot do the job without being able to perform them. A function can be essential if the position exists specifically to perform that function, there are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function if it were assigned to them, or the function is specialized and the employee is hired based on his/her ability to perform them. Final determination of the essential functions of a position will be made on a case-by-case basis by the MRB.
The process by which the individual requesting an accommodation and the Deciding Official talk to each other about the request for accommodation, the process for determining whether an accommodation will be provided, and potential accommodations.
Medical Review Board
The Secret Service Medical Review Board (MRB) established pursuant to Secret Service policies.
Person with a Disability
An individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, or who has a record of such impairment or is regarded as having such impairment. Major life activities include things such as (not all inclusive): caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working). Title 29 C.F.R. § 1630(2) (g).
Qualified Employee or Applicant with a Disability
A qualified employee or applicant with a disability is one who:
A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment or alteration that enables a qualified person with a disability to apply for a job, perform job duties, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:
A form of reasonable accommodation that, absent undue hardship, is provided to employees (not applicants) who, because of a disability, can no longer perform the essential functions of their job, with or without reasonable accommodation. Reassignment will be considered as a reasonable accommodation if the agency determines that no other reasonable accommodation will permit the employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her current position.
Reassignments are made only to vacant positions within the same appointing authority and to employees who are qualified for the new position. If the employee is qualified for the position, he/she will be reassigned to the job and will not have to compete.
Receiving OfficialsOfficials designated to receive a request for reasonable accommodation from an employee or applicant (or an individual acting on his/her behalf). Receiving Officials include an employee's immediate supervisor; another supervisor or manager in the employee's immediate chain of command; the EEO office, the Employee Relations Branch (ERB) of the Personnel Division, and in the case of an applicant any agency employee with whom the applicant has contact in connection with the application process.
Reconsideration decisions for applicants and employees will be made by the MRB. A Secret Service official at a level above the Deputy Assistant Director level may also be named in cases where the requestor is at a higher level in the organization, as to cause a conflict for members of the MRB.
An employee or applicant or employee, or an individual acting on his/her behalf, who submits a request for reasonable accommodation.
Undue Hardship to the Agency
An undue hardship means that a specific accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense.
Request for Reasonable Accommodation (or Barrier Removal) Process
Who may make a request for reasonable accommodation:
Secret Service employees or applicants for employment with the Secret Service.
A family member, friend, health professional, or other representative may request a reasonable accommodation on behalf of an employee or applicant with a disability. The request shall be made to one of the same persons to whom the employee or applicant would make the request. To the extent possible, an individual with a disability should be contacted to confirm that he/she in fact wants a reasonable accommodation. The individual may refuse to accept an accommodation that is not needed.
To Whom Should a Request be Made:
Secret Service employees or their representative must make the reasonable accommodation request to the employee's:
If the requestor is an applicant, he/she may make the request to any agency official with whom the applicant has contact in the processing of their employment application.
Form of the Request:
A request for accommodation may be made either orally or in writing. The request does not have to use any special words, such as "reasonable accommodation," "disability," or "Rehabilitation Act."
If the request is made orally, for record keeping purposes, the requestor (or the requestor's representative) must complete Appendix A: Secret Service Form (SSF) 4027, Request for Reasonable Accommodation (or Barrier Removal) within 10 calendar days of the oral request. If the requestor is unable or does not complete the form for any reason, the SSF 4027 should be completed by the first line supervisor.
An employee who requests and is granted a type of reasonable accommodation he or she is likely to need on a repeated basis (e.g. the assistance of sign language interpreters) is not required to re-submit a written request for such accommodation, except for record keeping purposes. Appropriate notice must be given each time the accommodation is needed.
Time of the Request
An individual may request a reasonable accommodation whenever he/she chooses, even if he/she has not previously disclosed the existence of a disability.
Responsibilities of Receiving Officials
If the individual receiving the request (the Receiving Official) is not the Deciding Official as outlined in this policy, the Receiving Official should forward the request to the Deciding Official in an expeditious manner, not exceeding three business days.
Upon receipt of a request for reasonable accommodation, whether oral or written, the Deciding Official may approve the request, or if necessary, contact the Secret Service ERB, Office of Chief Counsel, or the Secret Service EEO office for assistance.
Upon receipt of a request for reasonable accommodation, the Deciding Official must submit a copy of the SSF 4027 to the Secret Service ERB and EEO Offices.
In considering requests for reasonable accommodation, the Deciding Official and the employee or applicant should engage in the interactive process and actively communicate with each other concerning the accommodation and the process.
In some cases, the disability and/or the need for accommodation may not be obvious or otherwise known to the Deciding Official. In these cases, the Deciding Official may need to seek additional medical information. If the Deciding Official believes that he/she will need such additional medical information, the Deciding Official must contact the ERB prior to proceeding with any such request. See section concerning Agency Request for Medical Information, below.
Once all the necessary information has been gathered, the Deciding Official will, absent special circumstances, issue a written decision to the requestor within 20 business days of receiving the request from the Receiving Official. If the request for accommodation is to be denied, the Deciding Official must contact the ERB and the Office of Chief Counsel for assistance in drafting the written decision. The decision will state the reasons for the denial, the identity of the deciding official, and the requestor's administrative rights. A copy of the Deciding Official's decision must be forwarded to the SECRET SERVICE EEO Director.
With the exception of the headquarters reasonable accommodation budget, a Deciding Official may not grant requests for reasonable accommodation that exceed the micro-purchase level ($2,500.) without approval from the SAIC/RAIC/Division Chief, their respective Assistant Director, and the Assistant Director-Office of Administration. A completed SSF 4027, entitled "Request for Reasonable Accommodation (or Barrier Removal)" must accompany the request, and shall be identified with the unique project code established for tracking purposes.
Medical Review Board (MRB)
The Secret Service MRB will make final employment determinations concerning employees of the Secret Service whose medical/mental health information indicates that the individual may be unable to perform the essential functions of his/her position with the Secret Service.
With regard to applicants, the MRB will make final decisions on requests for reconsideration of denial of employment for medical reasons.
The MRB will also make final decisions in regard to reconsideration of requests for reasonable accommodation by employees or applicants for employment, made pursuant to the ADA and/or the Rehabilitation Act.
Other Responsible Offices
The Employee Relations Branch (ERB) of the Personnel Division is responsible for providing advice and guidance to supervisors and managers regarding granting reasonable accommodation requests. Receiving officials must provide a copy of each request to the Personnel Division ERB.
The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office is the office designated to track and report on the agency's reasonable accommodation requests and disposition of each request. Receiving officials must provide a copy of each request to the Secret Service EEO office.
The Interactive Process
Communication is a priority throughout the entire process. Secret Service officials involved in the provision of reasonable accommodation should take a proactive approach in searching out and considering possible accommodations, including consulting appropriate resources for assistance. The employee requesting the accommodation should also participate, to the extent possible, in helping to identify an effective accommodation. Resources, which are available to help both the Deciding Official and the individual requesting the accommodation to identify possible accommodations, are available from the Secret Service EEO office. The Secret Service's Disability Program Manager is also available to provide assistance.
On-going communication is particularly important where the specific limitation, problem, or barrier is unclear; where an effective accommodation is not obvious; or where the parties are considering different possible reasonable accommodations. In those cases where the disability, the need for accommodation, and the type of accommodation that should be provided are clear, extensive discussions are not necessary. Even so, the Deciding Official and requesting individual should talk to each other to make sure that there is a full exchange of relevant information.
Agency Request for Medical Information in Connection with a Request for Reasonable Accommodation
In some cases, the disability and need for accommodation will be obvious or otherwise already known to the Deciding Official. In these cases, further medical information will not be sought. The agency is entitled to request medical information when:
Where the disability and/or need for accommodation is not obvious or already known, It is the responsibility of the employee or applicant requesting reasonable accommodation to provide appropriate medical information related to the functional impairment and the requested accommodation. If sufficient medical or other information to support a request for reasonable accommodation is not provided by the requestor, or if the requestor fails to provide documentation/information where it has been properly requested, the agency may deny a reasonable accommodation request.
The Deciding Official will, in consultation with other appropriate Secret Service personnel (i.e. the ERB, Office of the Chief Counsel, Secret Service EEO office) determine whether additional medical or other information is needed. If appropriate, the Secret Service will request additional information.
If a determination is made to seek medical information, a specific explanation will be provided to the individual seeking the accommodation clarifying why the information is insufficient and what additional information is necessary for the agency to substantiate that the individual has a Rehabilitation Act disability, and needs the requested reasonable accommodation. Documentation unrelated to the disability claimed will not be requested.
Requests for medical information will follow the requirements set forth in EEOC's Enforcement Guidance: Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and may pertain to the following:
Upon receipt of the requested medical or other information from the employee/applicant, the Secret Service may forward the material to a medical professional or other appropriate outside consultant for review at the expense of the agency.
If the employee/applicant does not provide sufficient documentation from his/her own health care provider or other appropriate professional to substantiate the existence of a disability and the need for a reasonable accommodation, the Secret Service may request that a health care professional of the agency's choice, at the agency's expense, examine the individual. Applicants and employees subject to medical standards may also be required to submit to fitness for duty examinations if a question exists as to the individual's ability to perform the essential functions of his/her duties and responsibilities.
Once all the necessary information has been gathered, the Deciding Official will, absent special circumstances, issue a written decision to the requestor within 20 business days.
Reassignment as an Accommodation
Reassignment is an accommodation of last resort that is considered only if there are no effective accommodations that would enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his/her current job, or if all other possible accommodations would impose undue hardship.
The Deciding Official should work with the Secret Service Disability Program Manager and Personnel Division staff, as well as with the individual requesting the accommodation to identify:
The ability of the Secret Service to reassign an employee who is no longer medically qualified for his or her position is extremely limited due to the large number of positions at this agency that are subject to medical standards. Reassignment is only available to another funded vacant position of the same appointing authority.
The Secret Service will first focus on positions which 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 Secret Service will consider vacant lower level positions for which the individual is qualified.
Reassignment may 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, the Secret Service shall not pay for the employee's relocation costs unless Secret Service policy provides for such payments for non-disabled employees.
Consideration of Undue Hardship
Determination of undue hardship is always made on a case-by-case basis, and is decided by the ERB, and the Assistant Director (AD) of the requester's office. Advice and counsel on the agency's obligations under reasonable accommodation laws and regulations are provided by the EEO office and the Office of Chief Counsel.
In determining whether there would be an undue hardship on the operations of the agency's program (29 CFR 1614.203(c) (1)), the agency will consider the following factors:
If an employer determines that one particular reasonable accommodation will cause undue hardship, but a second type of reasonable accommodation will be effective and will not cause an undue hardship, then the employer must provide the second accommodation.
Time Frames for Processing a Reasonable Accommodation Request
The time necessary to process a request will depend on the nature of the accommodation requested and whether it is necessary to obtain supporting information. The Deciding Official will, absent special circumstances, issue a written decision to the requestor within 20 business days, of his/her receipt of the request. At a minimum, however, requests shall be processed as follows:
Requests Not Involving Special Circumstances
If the request does not require that supporting medical information be obtained, the request shall be granted or denied, provided as soon as possible but not more than 20 business days from the date the Deciding Official receives the request from the receiving official. Since the Deciding Official may need the full 20 days to engage in the interactive process and collect all relevant information about possible accommodations, he/she should not delay beginning this process. Failure to meet this time frame solely because a Receiving or Deciding Official delayed processing the request is not an extenuating circumstance.
If the request requires that supporting medical information be obtained to determine whether the requesting individual has a disability and/or to identify the functional limitations, the following will apply:
Requests Involving Special Circumstances
When special circumstances are present, the time for processing a request for reasonable accommodation and providing the accommodation will be extended as reasonably necessary.
It is the Secret Service policy that extensions based on special circumstances should be limited to circumstances where they are strictly necessary. All Deciding Officials are expected to act as quickly as reasonably possible in processing requests and providing accommodations. The following are examples of special circumstances:
Where special circumstances are present, the Deciding Official must notify the individual, in writing, of the reason for the delay, and the approximate date on which a decision, or provision of the reasonable accommodation, is expected. Any further developments or changes should also be communicated promptly to the individual. The Deciding Official must contact the ERB and the Office of the Chief Counsel for assistance in drafting this notification.
If there is a delay in providing an accommodation that has been approved, the Deciding Official must decide whether temporary measures can be taken to assist the employee. This could include providing the requested accommodation on a temporary basis or providing a less effective form of accommodation. In addition, the Deciding Official may provide measures that are not reasonable accommodations within the meaning of the law (e.g., temporary removal of an essential function) if:
For example, there may be a delay in receiving adaptive equipment for an employee with vision impairment. During the delay, the supervisor might arrange for the services of readers. This temporary measure may not be as effective as the adaptive equipment, but it will allow the employee to perform as much of the job as possible until the equipment arrives.
If a delay is attributable to the need to obtain or evaluate medical documentation and the Secret Service has not yet determined that the individual is entitled to an accommodation, the Secret Service may also provide an accommodation on a temporary basis. In such a case, the Deciding Official will notify the individual in writing that the accommodation is being provided on a temporary basis pending a decision on the accommodation request. The Deciding Official must contact the ERB and the Office of the Chief Counsel for assistance in drafting this notification.
When Deciding Officials approve such temporary measures, they are responsible for assuring that the temporary measures do not take the place of a permanent accommodation and that all necessary steps to secure the permanent accommodation are being taken.
Expedited Processing of a Reasonable Accommodation Request
Expedited processing of a reasonable accommodation request may be available where:
Temporary Illnesses or Injuries
Temporary illness or injuries do not constitute a disability under the Rehabilitation Act unless the illness/injury substantially limits one or more life activities. The determination of whether reasonable accommodation requests for temporary disabilities meet the criteria for substantial limitation will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Denials of Reasonable Accommodation
If a request for reasonable accommodation is to be denied, the decision will be in writing and will specifically state the reason for the denial (e.g. why the medical documentation is inadequate to establish that the individual has a disability or needs reasonable accommodation, why the requested accommodation would not be effective, or why the accommodation would pose an undue hardship), the identity of the deciding official, and the requestor's administrative rights. Where a specific requested accommodation is denied, and a different one is offered in its place, the written notice will explain both the reason for the denial of the requested accommodation and the reasons that the chosen accommodation will be effective.
Pursuing dispute resolution procedures, including seeking reconsideration from the Deciding Official's decision to the MRB or seeking reconsideration of the MRB's decision will not adversely affect the ability to initiate statutory and grievance claims. The time limits for initiating such claims will begin upon receipt of a final decision.
Reconsideration of Denials of Reasonable Accommodation Requests
Requests for reconsideration of denials of reasonable accommodation requests must be made in writing and must be submitted to the ERB within 10 business days of receipt of the written denial of a request for reasonable accommodation. The individual may present additional information in support of his/her request. The ERB, in consultation with the Office of the Chief Counsel, gathers the appropriate materials for creation and presentation of the record in the case to the MRB.
Upon receipt of a reconsideration request, a copy of the request will be provided to the EEO office.
The MRB will review the available information and may request additional medical or other information. The MRB may also consult with appropriate Secret Service officials, or seek advice from outside consultants or medical professionals concerning the request for accommodation. If the MRB seeks additional medical information the 10-day response period is stayed.
The MRB absent special circumstances, will make a final decision within ten (10) business days of the request.
If the reconsideration request is to be denied, the MRB must contact the ERB and the Office of the Chief Counsel for assistance in drafting the written decision. The decision will state the reasons for the denial and the requestor's administrative rights.
A copy of the reconsideration decision will be provided to the requestor, and to the EEO office.
A Secret Service official at a level above the DAD level may also be named in cases where the requestor is at a higher level in the organization, as to cause a conflict for members or the MRB.
Reconsideration of MRB Decision
A Secret Service official at a level above the DAD level will provide an opportunity for reconsideration of MRB denials of reasonable accommodation, when an individual provides new and additional medical information which directly impacts the decision of the MRB.
Consistency in Action
The Deciding Official and the MRB should recognize that, while consistency in action is to be considered, and may assist in forming a decision, most cases present unique fact situations that require handling on a case-by-case basis, with full consideration being given to all factors involved.
All medical information, including information about functional limitations and reasonable accommodation, obtained in connection with a request for reasonable accommodation needs must be kept confidential. The information shall be kept in files separate from the individual's Official Personnel Folder (OPF) or the Employee's Performance File (EPF). In addition, employees who obtain or receive such information are strictly bound by these confidentiality requirements.
The information may be disclosed only to the following individuals:
Whenever medical information is disclosed, the individual disclosing the information must inform the recipients of the information about the confidentiality requirements that are attached to it.
New supervisory employees who take over the supervision of an employee who is receiving accommodation should be fully briefed in regard to that accommodation, and the need for confidentiality concerning the underlying medical situation.
Information Tracking and Reporting
The Secret Service EEO Director will prepare and submit to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties annually, by October 15th, a report containing the following information:
In addition, the report shall provide a qualitative assessment of the Secret Service reasonable accommodation program, including any recommendations for improvement of the reasonable accommodation policies and procedures. Reports shall be maintained for at least three years.
The Secret Service will maintain the records related to an employee who has requested reasonable accommodation for the duration of the employee's tenure with the Secret Service.
Relation of Procedures to Statutory and Grievance Claims
Selected Reasonable Accommodation Resources
The Secret Service EEO office and ERB are available to provide assistance and information on available resources for reasonable accommodation provisions. Additional assistance is available at the following:
Department of Defense (DOD) Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) through the DHS Interagency Agreement with DOD. Requests for CAP funding should be sent to the Secret Service EEO office.U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
ADA Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACs)
Rehabilitation Engineering Assistive Technology Society Of North America (RESNA)
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