Q: An employee claims to have a family member with an underlying medical condition that makes him susceptible to severe COVID. May the agency ask for medical documentation about the family member’s condition, if that’s why the employee is seeking telework as a reasonable accommodation?
A: If the employee does not have a disability, then any step toward granting telework, including requesting medical documentation, is not part of the reasonable accommodation process because only qualified employees (or applicants) with disabilities are entitled to RA. See Key-Scott v. USPS, EEOC Appeal No. 0120100193 (2012).
You’ll need to check your agency’s policy for guidance about what is required to allow telework flexibilities for employees who live with individuals with underlying health conditions.
Q: If the agency grants telework as a provisional accommodation and it’s clear the accommodation is not working, how does the agency change the accommodation if the medical documentation states that telework is the recommended accommodation?
A: If the medical documentation recommends telework, the agency is not bound to provide telework if there is another affective accommodation that allows the employee to perform their job within their medical restrictions. If an accommodation is not working, then it is not an effective reasonable accommodation.
In a case where medical documentation recommends telework, at the outset the agency should request additional medical information related to the functional limitations the employee has, so that the agency can determine if an accommodation other than telework is appropriate.
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