Process for Employee Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. To be protected under the ADA, an individual must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having a substantial impairment.

What is a reasonable accommodation? A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that does not cause an undue hardship on the department or unit and which permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job the application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.

The Interactive Process

Each disability accommodation request is different and unique. Consequently, every request is analyzed and processed on a case-by-case basis. However, the general steps of the interactive process typically follow those described below. Anyone involved in the interactive process should not hesitate to ask questions at any point during the process.

  1. Employee- complete the reasonable accommodation request form. If the completion of this form is difficult, contact the ADA Compliance Office for a verbal request. There are no “magic words” required to make a request but the employee must initiate the request in writing or verbally. Third-party requests will only be accepted when authorized by the employee/applicant in writing. The employee seeking an accommodation and using a third-party designee will submit in writing the contact information for the designee and sign and date the request.
  2. At any point during the initial request, if questions arise, contact the ADA Compliance Office for assistance.
  3. The form once completed should be submitted to the ADA Compliance Office. The reasonable accommodation request form can be submitted electronically, faxed, or mailed. Once a form is submitted or a verbal request is made, the ADA Compliance Office will assign the request to the appropriate ADA representative: All employee requests that require the interactive process will be handled by the ADA Case Manager including all Faculty, Adjunct, Residents, Post-Docs, Fellows, Visiting faculty, TEAMS, USPS and OPS. 
  4. The ADA Case Manager will make an initial review of the accommodation request and make notes of any additional documentation that is needed to move forward. Initial contact will be made to the employee by either phone, email or letter.
  5. A meeting (either by phone or in-person) will take place separately with the employee and the employee’s supervisor as soon as possible but depending on the employee’s and supervisor’s schedule.
  6. A written response will be provided for each request once the interactive process is concluded. The disposition of each request will be either approved, modified, or, denied with reasons. This written response will be submitted to all those who attended the accommodation meeting, including to the ADA Compliance Officer.
  7. Any denial will need to be reviewed by the ADA Compliance Officer.
  8. Medical documentation no accommodation(s) will take place without medical documentation of the disability. Physician statement, individual counselor statement, physical therapist statement, Occupational Therapist statement are all appropriate and accepted statements. For those current employees with visible disabilities (disabilities such as but not limited to, chair user or other devices, visually impaired, hearing impaired/deaf) the accommodation will be provided pending submission of documentation. The ADA Compliance Office will determine when medical documentation is required.
  9. Written confirmation of receipt of request – upon receipt of the accommodation request, notification will be provided to the employee requesting an accommodation by either email, phone call, or letter.
  10. Time frame for processing requests – depending upon the circumstances, each employee’s request will be handled as expeditiously as possible. For those cases where medical documentation is forthcoming or when special equipment or construction is required each case will be handled on a one-to-one basis with the goal of not exceeding 30 working days.