What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, employment practice, or the work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to receive an equal employment opportunity. The University will provide a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the University.
Requesting Employee Accommodations:
Employees who are aware that a disability or health condition is affecting their job performance should talk with their supervisor and/or make contact with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Coordinator in Institutional Equity. The process for requesting accommodations in the workplace can be initiated by contacting the ADA Coordinator. The ADA Coordinator can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-487-3310. Employees do not need to disclose the disability or nature of an accommodation request during this initial contact.
Supervisors should refer employees who disclose disabilities or health conditions and request accommodations or assistance, or mention that they are not able to meet job requirements because of disabilities or health conditions, to the ADA Coordinator in Institutional Equity.
Recognizing an Employee Accommodation Request:
A request for an accommodation is any communication in which an employee asks or states that they need Michigan Tech to change when, where or how work is done due to a disability or a health condition. A request does not have to include any special words, such as “reasonable accommodation,” “disability,” or “ADA.” A family member, health professional, or other representative may trigger the request process for an accommodation on behalf of a Michigan Tech employee. If the initial information for a request comes from anyone other than the employee (e.g., a concerned co-worker, relative, doctor’s note), the ADA Coordinator will contact the employee to find out if the employee wishes to request an accommodation.
Under applicable disability laws, an individual with a disability is a person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment. Temporary, non-chronic impairments that do not last for a long time and that have little or no long-term impact usually are not disabilities. The determination of whether impairment is a disability is made on a case-by-case basis.
A disabled Veteran is an individual who:
- is a veteran of the US military, ground, naval, or air service who is entitled to compensation (or who but for the receipt of military retired pay would be entitled to compensation) under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or
- is a person who was discharged or released from active duty because of a service-connected disability.
What is a “major life activity” under the law?
To be considered a person with a disability, the impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, walking, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, learning, and caring for oneself.
What does “qualified” mean?
To be protected, a person must not only be an individual with a disability, but must be qualified. For University employees, a qualified individual with a disability is a person who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position, and who, with or without a reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the position.
Accommodation Request Documentation:
After reviewing Michigan Tech’s Request an Accommodation Procedures, the employee should fill out of the Accommodation Request Form (The employee must complete the Accommodation Request Form). The purpose of this form is to assist the ADA Coordinator in determining whether, or to what extent, a reasonable accommodation for an employee with a disability is required to perform one or more essential functions of their job safely and effectively. Once the Accommodation Request Form is received by the ADA Coordinator, the accommodation request process will officially begin. Unless the employee’s disability is readily apparent, it will be necessary to provide documentation of the disability and the relationship to the requested accommodation.
The employee will provide the Medical Inquiry Form (page 2 of the Accommodation Request Form) and the employee’s position description to their healthcare provider. The employee may ask the provider to return the completed Medical Inquiry Form to the ADA Coordinator or the employee may return the completed form to the ADA Coordinator. The employee may wish to make an appointment to discuss the accommodation request with their healthcare provider. An appointment is not required by Michigan Tech. This form should be returned to the ADA Coordinator within 10 working days after the submission of the Accommodation Request Form. The ADA Coordinator will let the employee know if it is not necessary to have a healthcare provider fill out the Medical Inquiry Form.
The employee will be responsible for obtaining medical documentation. Failure to provide necessary medical documentation may prevent a requested accommodation from being processed and/or provided.
It is also requested that the employee provide a copy of their job description when submitting the Request for Accommodation form and the Medical Inquiry form to the ADA Coordinator.
The Interactive Process:
The accommodation interactive process will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The ADA Coordinator will facilitate communication between the employee and the employee’s supervisor as it pertains to the accommodation request. As part of that interactive process, the ADA Coordinator may consult with an employee’s supervisor and Unit Chair/Director to gather relevant information necessary to respond to a request and assess whether a particular requested accommodation will be reasonable and effective. No accommodation related to job performance will be provided without first discussing the situation with the employee’s supervisor.
After a request for an accommodation has been made, the next step is for the parties to discuss what, if any, accommodation should be provided. This interactive communication will include:
- A precise description of the issue
- How the employee’s disability and/or health condition affects their ability to perform the essential job duties
- How the requested accommodations will assist the employee in the performance of their essential job duties
- Alternative accommodations that may be effective in meeting the employee’s needs
Upon receipt of the Accommodation Request Form and Medical Inquiry Form, the ADA Coordinator, in consultation with the employee’s supervisor or the Human Resources (HR) Director, will determine if a job analysis should be conducted. The job analysis will entail an assessment of the essential functions of the employee’s position relative to any physical restrictions outlined in the medical documentation. The job analysis will provide a recommendation regarding whether the essential functions of the employee’s position, given any documented physical restrictions, can be performed with or without a reasonable accommodation. The job analysis will be conducted on an “as needed” basis.
All information pertaining to the employee’s accommodation request will be shared only on a need to know basis during the interactive accommodation process. The ADA Coordinator may share certain information with an employee’s supervisor or other University official(s) as necessary to make appropriate determinations on an accommodation request.
In addition to disclosures of information needed to process a request for an accommodation, other disclosures of medical information and/or disability are permitted only as follows:
- supervisors and managers are entitled to any information that is necessary to implement restrictions on the duties or work of the employee or to provide a reasonable accommodation
- first aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if the disability might require emergency treatment or assistance during an evacuation
- government officials may be given information necessary to investigate the agency’s compliance with the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Accommodation Request Form and related correspondence or meeting notes will be kept in a file separate from personnel folders. All accommodation information will be appropriately secured and treated as confidential. This separation is required by federal law.
Supervisors must not discuss an employee’s disability or accommodation with the employee’s co- workers.
Time Frame for Processing Requests and Providing Reasonable Accommodations:
As a general rule, the interactive process for accommodations will begin upon receipt of the Accommodation Request Form. The employee should provide the required medical documentation to the ADA Coordinator within 10 business days. Upon receipt of the medical documentation, the ADA Coordinator will complete consultations with employees and/or supervisors within 30 business days. The ADA Coordinator will strive to complete the process for requests, from initiation to completion, within 45 business days. Complicated requests may take additional time.
Workplace Accommodation Implementation:
When a reasonable accommodation for an employee has been approved, both the employee and the supervisor will be notified via email. If the approved accommodation requires purchasing equipment or modifying the employee workspace, the cost of implementing the accommodation is the responsibility of Institutional Equity. Upon receipt of a piece equipment, an Equipment Loan Agreement will be completed and the equipment will be tagged with a university property sticker. The agreement states that the property belongs to the University and must be returned to the ADA Coordinator should the employee leave the university. Also, if the employee changes departments, the employee must notify the ADA Coordinator of the departmental change.
Once an accommodation has been approved, the ADA Coordinator may schedule a review of the accommodation with the requesting employee and/or the employee’s supervisor to discuss implementation of the accommodation and its effectiveness. Such reviews should occur periodically to ensure ongoing effectiveness – and continuing need – of the accommodations. Either the employee or supervisor may request such a review at any time.
After the resolution of a reasonable accommodation request by the ADA Coordinator, employees may appeal the decision to the Executive Director of Institutional Equity. An individual must submit the appeal within 10 business days of receiving the accommodation determination.
The Executive Director of Institutional Equity will respond to the appeal within 20 business days of receipt of the appeal. The Executive Director’s decision on the appeal will constitute final agency action and there will be no further appeal within the University. Nothing in these procedures should be construed to impede or prohibit a timely filing of a discrimination complaint with the appropriate external government agency. This procedure also does not prohibit a timely filing of an internal discrimination complaint, unrelated to a request for an accommodation, through Institutional Equity’s discrimination complaint resolution procedure.
If you have questions about the reasonable accommodation dispute resolution process at Michigan Tech or about the ADA, contact the ADA Coordinator at email@example.com or 906-487-3310.
To help keep track of the accommodation process, employees are encouraged to follow the below steps, which can serve as a roadmap:
- Review the University workplace accommodation procedures.
- Make your request(s) known to your supervisor OR contact the ADA Coordinator to initiate the formal accommodation procedure.
- Visit the Job Accommodation Network (askjan.org) and utilize this resource to assist you in completing your documentation. Complete the Accommodation Request Form and return it to the ADA Coordinator in Institutional Equity.
- If medical documentation is required, ensure your healthcare provider provides the Medical form to the ADA Coordinator in Institutional Equity.
- Engage in the interactive process with supervisor and the ADA Coordinator to discuss what accommodations can be provided that are appropriate for the employee and the Unit.
Students: Please visit Student Disability Services.
Visitors: If you are attending an event at the University and would like to request an accommodation, please contact the department sponsoring the event. You may also contact Institutional Equity at 906-487-3310 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants for Employment: Accommodations are available. If you require any auxiliary aides, services, or other accommodations to apply for employment, or for an interview, at Michigan Technological University, please notify Human Resources at 906-487-2280 or email@example.com.