EEOC finds federal employee unable to work and therefore not a qualified individual with a disability. Complainant filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of mental disability (bipolar disorder). He asserted discrimination when he received a notice of removal which charged him with being continuously absent without leave (AWOL) from work and not providing sufficient documentation to support his absences. Following the initial investigation, the Administrative Judge (AJ) issued a decision without a hearing finding no discrimination, concluding that there were no genuine issues of material fact and that Complainant failed to establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination because he failed to show that he was a qualified individual with a disability under the Rehabilitation Act. The Agency issued a Final Agency Decision (FAD) adopting the AJ’s decision, and Complainant appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) found that viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to Complainant, Complainant failed to establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination because he was unable to show that he was a qualified individual with a disability. Noting that the record contained clear and unequivocal statements that Complainant was unable to work, the OFO held that Complainant was not a qualified individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, could perform the essential functions of any position. The OFO further held that there was no reasonable accommodation that would enable Complainant to be able to perform the essential functions of any position. The OFO affirmed the Agency’s final order finding no discrimination.

Michael A. Valente v. United States Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 01A34243 (November 24, 2004) https://www.eeoc.gov/sites/default/files/migrated_files/decisions/01A34243.txt