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Executive Summary: May 2020, Issue 461

Newsletter of the Federal Executive Institute Alumni Association

May 2020, Issue Number 461


In this issue: 

  • President's Column: We're Only Human
  • Feature: Celebrate PSRW with OPM's Free Webinar Series
  • Feature: Resources for Staying Healthy
  • Wellness Article: Posture
  • Fed Corner: EEO Laws and COVID-19
  • Upcoming Events
  • New Members



President's Column: We're Only Human
By: Abram Brown, III, LDS 449


“We’re only human” is one phrase each of us have heard at some period in our lives, typically more than once over the years. Despite it being such a simple, universal colloquialism, we as federal leaders often trivialize or even forget its critical meaning. This is ironic, since “putting out fires” on a weekly or even sometimes daily basis is the status quo for so many of us.

According to Vertical Leadership Development theory, when there are times of new and unique challenges that disrupt our “normal” lives, the pinnacle of success comes from a self-transforming mind, which is being open to new theories and situations; even those that challenge one’s own thinking. According to transformational leadership theory, core tenets of success include resilience, idealized influencing and inspirational motivation.

So how does one achieve a self-transforming mind? Or exhibit transformational leadership? The solution is only possible from a well-balanced, mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Your health directly affects all areas of your life. Many of you are the heroes and/or oversee teams of heroes that have been helping our great nation through its most difficult medical crisis in over a century. I encourage all of our members to take the time to step back to focus on overall self-improvement, including development of skills and capacities to maintain or improve your physical and mental health. In this special edition of the Executive Summary, we share some valuable resources to help you in that effort. My family, friends and most colleagues know that one of my core values is health and that I place a high priority on exercise, proper diet and rest. I’ve learned by trial-and-error that my resilience is at its peak when there is a balance among mental, emotional and physical health. Developing life-long healthy habits are beneficial and can improve your resilience, relationships, productivity, and energy levels.

I’m sure you remember from FEI that now is as good a time as ever to “get on the balcony,” remembering that we can control only what we can control; the formula for a resilient, healthy disposition rests not within the situation we face, but rather our perception of that situation.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “Without health there is no happiness. An attention to health, then, should take the place of every other object.”



Celebrate PSRW with OPM's Free Webinar Series

In honor of Public Service Recognition Week, OPM’s Center for Leadership Development is offering a free webinar series on contemporary leadership topics. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to develop your skills as a federal employee. 

The webinars are open to all federal employees but are limited to 475 participants for each.

What Successful Leaders Do in Challenging Times
May 4 | 11 a.m. EST
What is successful leadership? How can leaders help employees do their best during challenges?

The ‘Write’ Way: How HR Professionals Can Get Results
May 6 | 1 p.m. EST
Learn how critical thinking and targeted messaging can increase your effectiveness.

Will Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) Work for Government Processes?
May 8 | 12 p.m. EST
How critical is the ability to shift time and energy from low-value to high-value work for individual and organizational advancement?

Other OPM Webinars 
Please note: Registration for the workshops below is full. Please visit their website for additional availability

Visualizing Complexity: Making a Case for Expressing Yourself Visually
Can sketching help you solve complex challenges for your team or agency?
April 30, 2020  |  2 p.m. EST

Impact of Mindset in Relationships 
Learn how to focus on and respond to others’ needs when routines have changed.
May 14 | 2 p.m. EST

Exercising Leadership During a Crisis
How can leaders navigate a crisis with a greater sense of “agency?”
May 21 | 2 p.m. EST

OPM Center for Leadership Development
Developing Visionary Leaders to Transform Government



Resources for Staying Healthy

Staying healthy is very important at all times.  We have compiled a list of resources as a convenience and for informational purposes only.  FEIAA does not endorse any specific product or service listed.

Office Friendly Exercises (Link to PDF Files, attached)

Mental Health Awareness
  • MentalHealth.gov: Let’s Talk About It
    Learn about mental health as a piece of overall wellness and the early warning signs of mental health problems.
  • Signs You May Be Burning Out – and What to Do About It
    With jobs and caregiving now often happening on the same couch at the same time, many workers are stuck in an unending grind. Here are some strategies for identifying and staving off burnout.
    Source: Bloomberg Businessweek
  • Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine, and Isolation During An Infectious Disease Outbreak
    This tip sheet describes feelings and thoughts you may have during and after social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. It also suggests ways to care for your behavioral health during these experiences and provides resources for more help.
    Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Stress and Coping
    Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Importance of Good Nutrition
    Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases (like heart disease and cancer), and promote your overall health.
    Source: US Health and Human Services
  • Healthy Lifestyle
    Access information about weight loss and obesity, tobacco and smoking, alcohol and drinking, and injury and accident prevention.
    Source: US Health and Human Services
  • Recipes
    Discover hundreds of tasty, healthy, budget-friendly recipes for you and your family.
    Source: US Department of Agriculture
  • Healthy Weight
    Learn how to maintain a healthy weight, how to lose weight naturally with a healthy diet, and how to establish a positive body image. View information on exercise, popular diets and more.
    Source: US Department of Agriculture


Free Trials
  • Headspace – Stress relief, anxiety, mindfulness exercises
  • Daily Burn – Exercises classes, Yoga Classes, Dance Exercises Classes, Kickboxing

Other Resources
  • Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund (FEEA): Coronavirus Resources for FEDSbr>Find a variety of resources FEEA has collected.
  • Opening Up America Again
    Federal guidance on a three-phased approach to reopening America and getting people back to work
  • Combined Federal Campaign
    CFC is the world's largest and most successful annual workplace charity campaign, with almost 200 CFC campaigns throughout the country and overseas raising millions of dollars each year. Pledges made by Federal civilian, postal and military donors during the campaign season will support eligible non-profit organizations that provide health and human service benefits throughout the world.
  • EEO Laws and COVID-19
    The EEOC answered questions submitted by the public regarding EEO laws and COVID-19.


Wellness Article: Posture

Information provided by Federal Occupational Health

Ouch! Is your posture the culprit for those nagging aches and pains? Improve your posture for better health!

Posture is how you hold your body when sitting, standing, or performing tasks such as walking, lifting, bending, and twisting. How you position your body can help or hurt your health over time. Poor posture places unnecessary strain on the body which can result in musculoskeletal injuries (e.g. tendonitis, herniated discs, carpal tunnel syndrome), a weakened spine, decreased flexibility, an increased risk of falling, difficulty digesting food, and breathing problems. 

Simple steps that can be taken to improve posture include:

  • Assess body position regularly; click here for more information about proper working positions
  • Alternate between sitting, standing, and moving (e.g. walking, stretching) throughout the day
  • Participate in yoga, tai chi, or other classes that focus on body awareness
  • Have an ergonomic assessment performed on your workstation
  • Improve your core strength
  • Work with a qualified professional (e.g. physical therapist) to assess your posture and provide personalized recommendations

Good posture does not happen overnight; be patient with yourself. Right now, take a moment to assess your posture. Are your shoulders relaxed? Are you ears in line with your shoulders? If seated, is your back supported? Are both feet flat on the floor? If standing, are your knees slightly bent? Is your weight mainly in the balls of your feet? Being aware is one of the most important factors when it comes to proper posture.


Fed Corner: EEO Laws and COVID-19

By Amy Johnson, LDS 406

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) answered questions submitted by the public regarding EEO laws and COVID-19.   All of the EEOC’s answers also apply to federal employees.

EEO laws will not prevent an employer from following guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), or state or local authorities.  Check out the following websites for the most up to date information:

Screening Employees

  1. Employers may ask all employees physically coming into the workplace:
    • If they had COVID-19 or symptoms associated with COVID-19 or
    • If they have been tested for COVID-19.
  2. Employers may require employees physically coming into the workplace to submit to temperature screening.
  3. Employers may not require screening of employees who are working from home.
  4. Employers may not single out certain employees for screening absent some reasonable belief based on objective evidence that the person might have the disease, such as the employee is exhibiting symptoms.
  5. Employers may inquire as to whether employees have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
  6. The EEOC recommends this question be broad—contact with any person—rather than limited to whether an employee has a family member diagnosed with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
  7. The EEOC cautions that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits requiring disclosure of an employee’s family medical information.
Excluding Employees from the Workplace
  1. Employers may exclude employees from the workplace if they have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. Employers may exclude an employee from the workplace who refuses a) to answer appropriate screening questions, or b) to have her/his/their temperature taken. The employer is permitted to ask why the employee refuses and to offer appropriate assurances regarding confidentiality.
  3. Employers may not exclude employees from the workplace because they are high risk, such as employees over 65 or with an underlying medical condition. Similarly, employees may not treat these employees differently, such as requiring telework.
  4. Employers may not exclude employees from the workplace based on their national origin.
  5. Employers may not lay off or furlough an employee because the employee is pregnant.
  1. Employers must keep all medical information confidential, whether or not the information is related to a disability; however this confidentiality requirement does not bar employers from reporting COVID-19 information to the CDC or other public health entities.
  2. Employers should limit sharing information on a need-to-know basis. The nature of individuals who need to know the identity of an employee diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 depends on each workplace and why the individual may need to know this information.
  3. Employers should designate a representative to interview an employee diagnosed with COVID-19 or who has symptoms of COVID-19 to learn the names of other employees with whom the employee had contact. The representative should inform the employees of the contact but should not disclose the affected employee’s name. Even if an employee guesses the identity of the affected employee, the employer should not confirm or reveal the affected employee’s identity.
  4. Employers should designate in advance those who are designated to know employee information and what steps to take; those designated individuals should be instructed on the requirement for confidentiality.
  5. If an employee is teleworking because she/he/they have symptoms of COVID-19, the employer may tell other employees that their co-worker is teleworking but may not tell the employees why.
  6. The ADA does not prohibit employees from informing a supervisor if she/he/they believe that a co-worker has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19. Any supervisor provided with that information should report it to the appropriate person.
  7. Employers may not disclose the identity of an employee who has COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19, even if the employer believes disclosure would be the easiest way to handle the situation.
  8. While working remotely, those responsible for maintaining employee medical information should follow regular protocols when possible. If this is not possible, they must safeguard the medical information to the greatest extent possible until can they can properly store the information.
Providing Reasonable Accommodations and/or Additional Protective Measures
  1. Employers are not required to provide special accommodations such as telework to employees who are high-risk solely because of their age—the Age Discrimination Enforcement Act does not require reasonable accommodations. Employers, however, may not exclude older workers from benefits provided to other employees.
  2. Employers may not deny pregnant employees a workplace accommodation that the employer provides to other employees who are limited in their ability to work.
  3. Pregnant employees with pregnancy-related medical conditions may be entitled to reasonable accommodations; however, pregnancy itself is not a disability.
  4. At this time, the EEOC has not decided whether a COVID-19 diagnosis may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  5. On the other hand, the EEOC has decided that if an employee has a disability that puts her/him/them at greater risk of severe illness if the employee contracts COVID-19, and that employee requests a reasonable accommodation to limit exposure, the employer must treat this as a standard request for a reasonable accommodation and take all appropriate steps.
    • The employer may verify the disability if it is not already on notice.
    • The employer may verify that the accommodation requested is due to the disability.
    • The employer should be flexible in how it verifies a disability, such as accepting a health insurance record or prescription.
    • The employer may want to provide a temporary accommodation while waiting for necessary documentation.
  6. Similarly, if an employee has a disability that is exacerbated by the situation and the employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer must treat this as a standard request for a reasonable accommodation and take all appropriate steps.
    • The employer may verify the disability if it is not already on notice.
    • The employer may verify that the accommodation requested is due to the disability.
    • The employer should be flexible in how it verifies a disability, such as accepting a health insurance record or prescription.
    • The employer may want to provide a temporary accommodation while waiting for necessary documentation.
  7. Employers are not required to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee who lives with someone who has a disability that puts her/him/them at greater risk of severe illness if the employee contracts COVID-19. Employers should, however, keep in mind how it treats other employees with similar requests.
  8. Employers and employees should try to be very flexible during the interactive process following a request for a reasonable accommodation and consider interim accommodations where appropriate.
  9. Whether an employee with a disability is entitled to the same reasonable accommodations provided in the workplace if the employer requires or permits employees to telework due to the pandemic depends on the specific situation. Considerations include:
    • Whether the employee already has mechanisms in place at home that meet the same needs;
    • Whether the request would be an undue hardship in this context (including given the limited nature of the telework arrangement); and
    • Whether there are constraints on the availability of any needed resource.
  10. If an employer requires or permits employees to telework due to the pandemic, the employer is not automatically required to permit all disabled employees who request to telework as a reasonable accommodation to do so once the pandemic is over.
    • Employers must engage in the typical interactive dialogue in considering the request.
    • Employers should use the employee’s performance during the telework period to assess the potential for accommodation moving forward.
Disparate Treatment and Hostile Work Environments
  1. Employers may not treat employees differently based on their national origin.
  2. Employers may not permit a hostile work environment based on an employee’s national origin because others link it to transmission of COVID-19.



Save The Date

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Tour of the National Museum of African American History & Culture

More information coming soon.


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