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Reasonable Accommodation for Postal Service Tests

The Rehabilitation Act has prohibited discrimination in the workplace for individuals with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to work federal government agencies like the United States Postal Service. The law that gives the same level of protection for those who would like to work in the private sector is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Both laws have the same regulatory standards which, in essence, mandate employers like the USPS to have procedures, guidance, and instructions on matters relating to requests of reasonable accommodation involving applicants and employees.

To determine if a person has a disability, there are two questions that must be resolved, according to the USPS Handbook. The first is: Does the person have a physical or mental impairment? 2) If so, does that physical or mental impairment substantially limit a major life activity?

Physical impairment can include “any physiological disorder or condition; cosmetic disfigurement; anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genito-urinary, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.” As far as mental impairments go, these can include “any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation or organic brain syndrome, and can also encompass emotional or mental illness and specific learning disabilities.” Obesity, poor judgment, or quick temper and other personality traits are not considered disabilities in this definition.

Disability, therefore, will not prevent you from taking a postal service battery test. However, you will need to ask for reasonable accommodation when you apply so that your request will be processed by the USPS personnel. This can be done orally or in writing and the Postal Service is mandated to process it promptly.

You can expect USPS personnel to have a dialogue with you to determine the reason for your request, the nature of the impairment and the major life activity affected, the essential functions that require accommodation, and whether the need for accommodation is time sensitive. They will then follow the reasonable accommodation process to see if your request can be granted. The five-step process includes the following steps:

Step 1 determines if the requestor (you) have a disability. Then, USPS will determine what the essential functions of the job are. Step 3 involves identifying the abilities and limitations of the requestor. Once this has been done, step 4 involves identifying potential accommodations. The final step involves determining the reasonableness of the accommodation and selecting options.

Take note that not all requests for reasonable accommodation will be granted by the USPS. For example, the Postal Service will not buy or rent expensive specialized equipment or service on a one-time basis for a limited use by a few applicants. The USPS may not also grant your request to postpone the test to a large number of applicants to accommodate the need of only one applicant with a disability. However, the USPS may accommodate by establishing an alternate testing date for individuals with disabilities.