Element Four - Proactive Prevention

 As part of its ongoing obligation to prevent discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, reprisal and disability, and to eliminate barriers that impede free and open competition in the workplace, an agency must conduct a self-assessment on at least an annual basis to monitor progress, identify areas where barriers may operate to exclude certain groups, and develop strategic plans to eliminate identified barriers.

 As stated under Element One, an agency must develop and make known to all employees an effective anti-discrimination policy that explains what protections are afforded by the civil rights laws and how complaints may be raised, including the EEO process and other processes.

 In addition to the anti-discrimination policy mentioned above, agencies should develop a comprehensive anti-harassment policy to prevent harassment on all protected bases (including, but not limited to, sexual harassment) and retaliation in the workplace. The policy should:

 Inform employees as to what type of behavior is prohibited, and the steps to take if faced with a harassment situation.

 Provide for multiple avenues of redress, not just the EEO complaint process.

 Provide that no acts of retaliation will be tolerated.

 For further guidance, see EEOC Enforcement Guidance: Vicarious Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors (6/18/99); and EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17 (1993) (3/8/94).

 Pursuant to Executive Order 13164, as of July 25, 2001, all federal agencies were required to have developed written procedures for acting on requests for reasonable accommodation under the Rehabilitation Act. Agencies that remain noncompliant with this Executive Order must develop such procedures immediately and submit them to the Commission, which will offer feedback. The policy should be regularly evaluated for compliance with current law and regulations.(2) An agency must ensure that all employees are informed of, and have access to, such procedures, including making the procedures available on the World Wide Web or Internet.

 An effective reasonable accommodation procedure must include the following:

 An explanation as to how an employee or job applicant may initiate a request for reasonable accommodation.

 An explanation of how the agency will process a request for reasonable accommodation and from whom the individual requesting accommodation will receive a final decision.

 A designated time period during which reasonable accommodation requests will be granted or denied, absent extenuating circumstances.

 An explanation of the responsibility of the employee or applicant requesting reasonable accommodation when the disability and/or need for accommodation is not obvious or already known to provide appropriate medical information, when requested, related to the functional impairment and the requested accommodation.

 An explanation of the circumstances under which the agency may request supplemental medical information in support of an accommodation request.

 An explanation of the agency's right to have medical information reviewed by a medical expert of the agency's choosing at the agency's expense.

 An explanation of the circumstances in which reassignment will be required as a reasonable accommodation if the agency determines that no reasonable accommodation will permit the employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of his or her current position.

 A provision that denials of requests for reasonable accommodation will be in writing and specify the reasons for denial.

 A provision that the agency's systems of record-keeping track the processing of requests for reasonable accommodation and maintain the confidentiality of medical information received in accordance with applicable law and regulations.

 Encouragement of the use of informal dispute resolution processes to allow individuals with disabilities to obtain prompt reconsideration of denials of reasonable accommodation.

 Provisions for the effective dissemination of the written procedures and sufficient training.

 For further information, consult the EEOC Policy Guidance on Executive Order 13164: Establishing Procedures to Facilitate the Provision of Reasonable Accommodation (10/20/00).