ANOTHER RIGHT TO BE REASSIGNED
One of the major benefits denied federal employees is the right to laterally reassign to a vacancy elsewhere in the country even if it is for the same job title, series and grade that the employee already holds. Consequently, unions not only have to bargain hard to get employees that right, but also be aware of every statutory right employees already have to insist on reassignment. The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit just reminded us of another path to a reassignment.
In this case, the agency refused to reassign an employee from Texas to New Mexico even though she was entitled to the move as a reasonable accommodation for a disability she had. The agency argued that her disability was not preventing her from doing her job quite successfully in Texas and therefore she did not need the reassignment.
The employee agreed that she did not need the reassignment to be able to perform her job successfully; she argued that she needed the move to get medical treatment that was not available in Texas.
Although the court did not order her immediately moved, it did declare that reassignment needed to obtain medical treatment for a disability may indeed be required by law as a reasonable accommodation. Stated differently, it was not willing to declare such a request unreasonable and returned the case to a lower court for a trial on whether this employee’s individual facts met the requirements of the law entitling her to a reassignment.
The case is titled as Sanchez v. Vilsack, No. 11-2118 (10th Cir. 2012), and the court did a good job of summarizing the law in other federal circuit courts that supports an employee’s right to a reassignment to obtain medical treatment for a covered disability.