Workplace Accommodations for Employees
Overview of the ADA
In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA), and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), Wichita State University (WSU) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability.
For the purposes of employment, the ADA, RA, and ADAAA are designed to help individuals with disabilities access the same employment opportunities and benefits available to individuals without disabilities. These civil rights laws require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants for University positions and current employees.
An individual with a disability is a person who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; or,
- has a record of such impairment; or,
- is regarded as having such an impairment.
Three factors are considered to determine whether a person’s impairment substantially limits a major life activity:
- the nature and the frequency of the impairment;
- the expected duration of the impairment; and,
- the permanency or long-term impact of the impairment.
Major Life Activities may include:
Lifting, sleeping, concentrating, breathing, working, eating, walking, standing, reaching, thinking, reading, bending, hearing, seeing, speaking, learning, sitting, caring for self, interacting with others, performing manual tasks, and communicating.
Major life activities may also include:
major bodily functions including immune, hemic, digestive, bowel, bladder, genitourinary, lymphatic, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, reproductive, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, special sense organs/skin, and normal cell growth.
Temporary, non-chronic impairments of short duration, with little or no long-term or permanent impact, are usually not disabilities. Such impairments may include, but are not limited to, broken limbs, sprained joints, concussions, appendicitis, and influenza.
A qualified individual is someone who meets the skill, experience, and education requirement of the position held or desired and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodations.
Reasonable accommodations are any modification or accommodation to a job, practice, policy, or the work environment that enables an employee to perform the essential functions of a position without creating undue hardship for the employer and/or posing a direct threat to the health or safety of the individual making the request or others.
Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- acquiring or modifying equipment or devices;
- providing qualified readers or interpreters;
- job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassigning to a vacant position; and
- making existing facilities readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
The process for determining if there are reasonable accommodations that can be implemented is called the interactive process. It is an ongoing conversation between and employee and their supervisor to determine if there are reasonable accommodations that will enable the employee to complete the essential functions of their job. Documentation of the request and interactive process is required.
Accommodation requests and any supporting documentation related to the determination of the request will be kept in the employee's confidential medical file in Human Resources (HR). Employers informed of an employee's limitations and request for accommodation are prohibited from disclosing such information to other employees and third party individuals with the following limited exceptions:
- Supervisors may know about necessary restrictions on the work or duties of an employee and any accommodations;
- First aid and safety personnel may be informed if the disability might require emergency treatment or specific procedures are needed in the case of fire or other evacuation; and,
- Government officials investigating compliance with the ADA and/or other federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability may be provided relevant information upon request.
Any applicant or employee who believes he or she had a reasonable accommodation denied, was discriminated against based on disability, or was retaliated against due to an accommodation request is encouraged to make a complaint with the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. The Notice of Non-discrimination Policy, including the complaint proces, may be found online (refer to University Policy 3.02 / Notice of Nondiscrimination for more information).
Workplace Modification or Accomodation Request Process
If you are a WSU employee who needs a modification in order to meet the requirements of your job, please work with your supervisor following the below steps to determine if there is an effective reasonable accommodation(s).
Request Steps for Employee and Supervisor:
Employee: Complete an Employee Request (ER) Form (Fillable PDF), detailing any job-related limitations and possible modification(s), and submit it to your supervisor. Hard copies of the ER form and other accommodation process forms are available in Human Resources (HR) upon request.
If you have questions about completing the form and/or requesting an accommodation, you may contact your Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) for assistance. To confirm the HRBP for your department or area, please refer to the list of HRBP contacts.
If you feel that supporting information may be helpful, submit sufficient documentation from your healthcare provider that supports your request. You may submit a Certification of Health Care Provider Form or any other form of documentation (i.e. a doctor's note) that supports your request for accommodation(s). Though this information may be beneficial, it is not required in order to request an accommodation.
Supervisor: After receiving the ER form, contact your HRBP to review the request and the interactive discussion process. As part of this review, your HRBP will provide you with the Record of Action (ROA) Form, which you and your employee will use to document the interactive process.
Supervisor/Employee: Discuss the request to determine if there is a reasonable accommodation(s) that will enable the employee to fulfill the essential functions of their role. During the interactive process, either party may introduce ideas or options to accommodate the employee's needs and/or seek assistance from the HRBP. Any identified accommodations must be mutually agreed upon by the employee and supervisor and documented in the ROA.
Supervisor: Submit all completed documentation, including the request form, any supporting information, and the ROA, to your HRBP to be stored in the confidential employee medical file.
Supervisor/Employee: Continue to have ongoing discussions if an adjustment or update to the existing agreed upon accommodation(s) is needed and/or if there is an additional accommodation request. All updates/additions should be documented on the existing ROA and reviewed with the HRBP prior to being finalized and filed in the employee medical file.
Resources for Frequently Asked Questions
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: The ADA Frequently Asked Questions
- U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP): The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 Frequently Asked Questions
- ADA.gov - Information and Technical Assistance on the ADA
- Job Accommodation Network
- National Council on Disability
- U.S. Access Board
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- U.S. Department of Labor
- On-Campus Single-Occupancy Restrooms, Baby Changing Stations and Lactation Rooms
Who to Contact
HR Total Rewards Team
Revised: 03/09/2020 HB