Reassignment as a Reasonable Accommodation

Melville Johnson
April 7, 2020

Generally, reassignment as reasonable accommodation is granted as a “last resort,” and is only required after determining that no effective accommodations will allow the employee to perform the essential functions of his or her current position, or that all the other accommodations will be pose an undue hardship to the employer. However, if the employer and employee voluntarily agree that the transfer is preferable to remaining in the current position with some form of reasonable accommodation, then the employer may reassign the employee.

To obtain reassignment, the employee must be “qualified” for the new position. To be qualified, the employee must demonstrate that he or she:

  1. satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position
  2. Can perform the essential functions of the new position, with or without reasonable accommodation.

The employee does not need to be the best qualified individual for the position in order to obtain the reassignment. It is also important to note that the employer has no obligation to assist the employee to become qualified, such as providing training.

Also, with regard to vacancy, “vacant” means that the position is available when the employee asks for reasonable accommodation, or that the employer knows that it will become available within a reasonable amount of time as determined on a case-by-case basis. A position is considered “vacant” even if the employer has posted a notice or announcement seeking applications for that position. However, the employer is not required to bump an employee from a job in order to create a vacancy, nor does it have to create a new position.

As mentioned, the employer must reassign the employee to a vacant position that is equivalent in terms of pay, status, and other factors if the employee is qualified. However, if there is no vacant equivalent position, the employer must reassign the employee to a vacant lower level position for which the individual is qualified that is closest to the employee’s current position. In addition, reassignment does not include giving an employee a promotion.

The federal employee attorneys at Melville Johnson, P.C. are highly experienced in OPM matters such as these, and are willing and able to assist you in your federal employment legal matters.

This blog and web site published by Melville Johnson, P.C. should not be used as a substitute for seeking competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. Readers of this information should not act upon any information contained on this blog or website without seeking professional counsel.
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