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EEOC holds fitness for duty exam for federal employee was not unlawful. Complainant filed an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint alleging discrimination on the bases of race (Black), color (Black), sex (Female), disability (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy), and reprisal for prior EEO activity when she was denied a revised work schedule, was yelled at on the workroom floor and sent home, she was placed off the clock and her limited duty assignment was withdrawn, her request for light duty was denied, she was sent for a fitness for duty examination, she was given a pre-disciplinary interview, and she was issued a notice of removal for failure to meet the requirements of her position. After suffering an on-the-job injury, Complainant eventually became unable to perform her duties as a carrier. Eventually her limited duty status was terminated and she was returned to her letter carrier position with full duties, and was informed if she couldn’t perform her duties she needed to apply for light duty. Complainant filled out said request, and her supervisor denied it and sent her to a fitness-for-duty examination after which she was terminated for failure to meet the physical requirements of her position as a letter carrier. Following the initial investigation the Administrative Judge (AJ) issued a decision finding no discrimination reasoning that Complainant had failed to establish that she was subjected to a hostile work environment or disparate treatment as she failed to that others outside her protected class were treated differently. The Agency’s final decision adopted the AJ’s finding of no discrimination, and Complainant appealed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On appeal, the EEOC’s Office of Federal Operations (OFO) held that viewing all the evidence, it is clear that the Agency sent Complainant to her fitness for duty examinations based on the allegations that she would be unable to perform her job duties, and as such it was job-related and consistent with business necessity and not a violation of the Rehabilitation Act. Holding that the Complainant was a qualified individual with a disability, the OFO concluded that the analysis regarding reasonable accommodations does not stop with only the assigned position, but also includes positions that the employee could have held as a result of reassignment. As such, the Agency should have considered reassignment as a reasonable accommodation. However; Complainant failed to show that there were vacancies at the time of her request for an accommodation and therefore could not show that a reasonable accommodation was available for her. The OFO affirmed the Agency’s final order finding no discrimination.

Hampton v. United States Postal Service, EEOC Appeal No. 01986308 (August 1, 2002) https://www.eeoc.gov/sites/default/files/migrated_files/decisions/01986308.txt