The Office of Federal Operations, EEOC, reaffirmed that a federal employee is not entitled to reasonable accommodation for his or her spouse’s disability in Davis v. Department of the Interior, Appeal No. 0120123517 (2/12/13).However, federal employees may file EEO complaints when faced with discrimination because of the known disability of an individual with whom the employee has a family, business, or social relationship or association.

In this case an education program administrator for the Bureau of Indian Affairs alleged that she was subject to disparate treatment when she was involuntarily reassigned to another education line office in a different state. The involuntary reassignment was based on how the complainant managed funds from various sources, hiring practices, EEO complaints, school issues, and lack of responsiveness which resulted in an investigation. Following the investigation, a resolution by the tribe requested Davis’s removal, and she was given the choice of a reassignment, separation or retirement.

Davis alleged in her EEO complaint that the management reasons for her involuntary reassignment were based on a pattern of discrimination against older women and because management was aware that she was seeking a reasonable accommodation to care for her disabled husband, i.e., accessible housing. The decision pointed out that the tribal nations are involved with operating the schools, and the Bureau of Indian Education has an obligation to the tribes.

However, the Commission noted "that the agency did not reassign Complainant solely on the tribe’s dissatisfaction, but following an investigation that revealed problems with Complainant’s management."Furthermore, citing 29 CFR 1630.8, it stated that "the Commission has held, however, that individuals with a relationship or association with a person with a disability are not entitled to receive reasonable accommodations." See EEOC’s Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act at n. 5 (10/17/02).

* This information is provided by the attorneys at Passman & Kaplan, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the representation of federal employees worldwide. For more information on Passman & Kaplan, P.C., go to http://www.passmanandkaplan.com.

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