EEOC finds prima facie case of discrimination but Agency had legitimate reason for its actions. Complainant filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging discrimination on the basis of disability (shoulder injury). He alleged his Office of Worker’s Compensation Programs (OWCP) claim was mishandled and management failed to provide reasonable accommodation of his disability. Prior to the complaint, Complainant was offered a full-time permanent position as a telephone nurse; however, Complainant declined the offer stating he could not accept due to an emotional condition. Following the initial investigation, the Agency issued a Final Agency Decision (FAD) concluding that Complainant failed to establish a prima facie case of disability discrimination, reasoning that Complainant was not able to show that his shoulder injury rendered him disabled within the meaning of the Rehabilitation Act. The FAD also found that the Complainant was offered an accommodation through the OWCP program and the Complainant did not present any evidence that his claim was mishandled. Complainant appealed the FAD to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) found that assuming Complainant had established a prima facie case of disability discrimination. However, the Agency processed his OWCP claim pursuant to the applicable rules and regulations and the Complainant’s benefits were terminated because he failed to accept the position of telephone nurse within the time frame allotted. The OFO further held that the Agency articulated legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for its actions, and Complainant was unable to show that any of the Agency’s actions were motivated by a discriminatory animus. As to the reasonable accommodation claim, the OFO held that assuming the Complainant was a qualified individual with a disability, the Agency did provide him with a reasonable accommodation which he declined. The OFO affirmed the Agency’s final order finding no discrimination.

Michael G. Faulhaber v. Department of Veteran Affairs, EEOC Appeal No. 01A42022 (June 24, 2005)

Attorney Kirk J. Angel represents federal employees, including Veterans Affairs employees, in EEO claims nationwide.