Procedures for Employees with Disabilities to Request Workplace Accommodations
Reasonable accommodations are alterations/changes in the workplace that enable persons with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs and to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
Procedures for processing workplace accommodations will allow the University to process requests in a prompt, fair and efficient manner. The procedures also provide guidance to individuals with disabilities on steps to request accommodations and what to expect.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) – the law that clarifies the mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The law is designed to strengthen the protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act and broaden the coverage of individuals under the Act. The law became effective on January 1, 2009.
- Reasonable accommodation – modifications or adjustments necessary to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of her/his job or enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
- Undue hardship – significant difficulty or expense incurred by the employer in providing the requested accommodation.
- Essential functions – fundamental job duties that bear more than a marginal relationship to the job at issue. If the job description contains the essential functions of the job including physical, behavioral, and minimal qualification requirements, that description will be considered evidence of the essential functions of the job. If the position exists to perform a function, then that function is essential. A function may also be essential if:
- it requires specialized skills;
- it requires a significant amount of time;
- there are significant consequences if the function is not performed; or
- there are a limited number of employees to perform the function.
Time limits: Absent extenuating circumstances, requests for reasonable accommodations should be processed within fifteen (15) work days of receipt by the supervisor or Human Resources professional. If there is a delay in processing the request, the individual with the disability should be notified in writing and informed of the date on which the supervisor/Human Resources professional expects the process to be completed.
Step 1. Initiating a Request: The employee is responsible for requesting a workplace accommodation for a disability. The request should be made to either the employee’s supervisor or Human Resources professional. The request should be in writing and should include the following:
- the condition and its duration;
- the limitations caused by the condition and how those limitations impact the employee’s performance of the essential functions of the job;
- the accommodation the employee and/or the employee’s doctor/medical professional believe will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job. The employee should provide his/her doctor/medical professional with the definition of a disability as defined by the American’s with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008, and a job description identifying the essential functions of the job. This information may be obtained from the employee’s supervisor or Human Resources.
Step 2. Engage in an interactive dialogue: The employee should engage in an interactive dialogue with the supervisor and/or Human Resources professional about the specific impact of the condition on job performance and to determine a reasonable accommodation. The dialogue may not be necessary where the existence of the disability and the need for the accommodation is obvious, and the supervisor and employee agree upon the most effective reasonable accommodation.
Step 1. Responding to a request for an accommodation
- Responding to an obvious disability: If both the disability and the need for the accommodation are obvious and the requested reasonable accommodation does not present an undue hardship, in order to eliminate unnecessary review and delay in providing the reasonable accommodation, the supervisor may provide the reasonable accommodation after discussing the request with the employee. The supervisor should document in writing the request and the reasonable accommodation provided. The documentation should be forwarded to Human Resources.
- Responding when the disability is not obvious: When the disability or the need for an accommodation is not obvious, the supervisor should consult with a Human Resources professional. The Human Resources professional will determine if it is necessary to request (additional) medical documentation. All medical documentation should be kept confidential, separate from general personnel files, and shared only with those who are involved in the decision making process. The medical documentation should include the following:
- the condition and its duration;
- the limitations caused by the condition and how it impacts the performance of the essential functions of the individual’s job; and
- the accommodation the employee and/or the employee’s doctor/medical professional believe will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.
- Additional Information: Supervisors should contact a Human Resources professional or the ADA Coordinator if additional information is needed to document the disability, to clarify limitations, or if subsequent steps are required to process the accommodation request. If additional medical information is needed from the employee’s physician, the supervisor or Human Resources professional will provide the employee with a medical certification letter and medical information request form. Both documents should be returned to and maintained by the University or Medical Center Human Resources Division.
Step 2. Agreeing on a reasonable accommodation: The supervisor and/or Human Resources professional should begin an interactive dialogue with the employee when (1) the specific limitation, problem or barrier is unclear; (2) an effective reasonable accommodation is not obvious; or (3) the parties are choosing between different reasonable accommodations. The dialogue may not be necessary where the existence of the disability and the need for the accommodation are obvious, and the supervisor and employee agree upon the most effective reasonable accommodation. Neither a supervisor nor the department should make a determination that a specific accommodation is unreasonable or creates an undue hardship without consulting with Human Resources and/or the ADA Coordinator.
- Unsure whether the condition qualifies as a disability: If the Human Resources professional is unsure whether a condition qualifies as a disability as defined by the ADAAA or whether an accommodation is reasonable he/she should consult with the ADA Coordinator.
- Condition does not qualify as a disability: If, after consulting with Human Resources and/or the ADA Coordinator the supervisor determines that the employee’s condition does not qualify as a disability, that determination should be communicated to the employee in writing by the supervisor or Human Resources professional. A determination that the condition does not qualify as a disability covered by the ADAAA does not preclude the supervisor, at her/his discretion, from granting the employee’s request as a means of assisting the employee. If the supervisor decides to grant an employee’s request when the employee does not have a disability as defined by the ADAAA, the supervisor should advise the employee that:
The supervisor should document this conversation in writing and provide a copy to the employee.
- the condition is not a disability covered by the Act nor does the supervisor regard the employee as disabled under the Act, and
- the request is being granted at management’s discretion and is not an entitlement; and
- the requested change may be withdrawn or modified at any time at the discretion of the department.
- Medical Certification Letter (doc)
- Medical Information Request Form (pdf) Attached to Medical Certification Letter and completed by a medical professional.
- Disability Accommodation Worksheet (pdf) Used by the supervisor/HR professional to document the process.
- Technical Assistance: The employee, supervisor and Human Resources professional may seek the advice or assistance of the ADA Coordinator regarding technical assistance or any issues that are not resolved during the process.
- EEO Complaints: Complaints based on allegations of denial of reasonable accommodation, disability discrimination, and/or retaliation may be filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs.