The Foreign Service Journal, September 2010

S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 0 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 31 In saying that a person “needs to decide to move from the Foreign Service to the Civil Service,” the MED official shows ignorance of laws that protect employees with dis- abilities: “No covered entity shall discriminate… in regard to … the hiring, advancement, or discharge of employees, employee compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.” The Civil Serv- ice is so different from the Foreign Service, especially in their respective retirement plans, that moving from one to the other would manifestly be a change in the “terms, con- ditions and privileges of employment.” In saying “this may need to come from the DG’s office,” the MED official seems to be suggesting that the director general’s office should pressure employees to make a switch. This would be contrary to law, which states: “It is unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, harass or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of ... any right granted or protected by this part.” As long as they can still do the job, FS personnel have the right to remain em- ployed in the Service despite a disability. Moreover, I would guess, based on the very limited data I have been able to gather, that less than 1 percent of For- eign Service members hold Class 5 medical clearances. Providing that small group (fewer than 100 people) with the “reasonable accommodation” of permission to serve only in domestic assignments should not constitute an “undue hardship” for an agency with thousands of em- ployees. Some Encouraging Signs On the bright side, the department has taken a number of steps to increase opportunity for employees withmedical problems or disabilities. On May 6, MED sent a cable to all posts (ALDAC 10 State 046791) announcing a change to its criteria for a Class 1 worldwide-available clearance. Previously, an employee or family member who had a med- ical condition that was stable but required periodic evalu- ations would be given a Class 2 medical clearance, and would be assigned only to posts where periodic evaluations were available. Under the new criteria, such an employee F O C U S