Workplace Accommodation Procedures
To articulate the procedures for Workplace Accommodation.
A request for workplace accommodation due to a disability or health condition of an employee must be submitted for a formal review to the ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility (ADA RCEA). This starts the evaluation of the request and determines if an accommodation is possible and appropriate. The following provides procedural information for facilitating a request for workplace accommodation:
A. Recognizing a Workplace Accommodation Request:
A request for an accommodation is any communication in which an employee asks or states that the “when”, “where”, or “how” work is done needs to be changed or modified by the employer due to a disability or health condition. A request does not have to include any special words, such as “reasonable accommodation,” “disability,” or “ADA.” An employee who discloses their disability or health condition and simultaneously makes a request for accommodation or assistance (including but not limited to the adjustment in a work schedule, leave, equipment needs, etc.) or mentions that the employee is unable to meet job requirements due to a disability or health condition should be referred by their supervisor to the ADA RCEA for guidance and assistance. If possible, the supervisor should independently advise the ADA RCEA of the request. Any additional or clarifying questions should be directed to the ADA RCEA.
If a family member, health professional, or other representative contacts the ADA RCEA to discuss the need for an accommodation, the ADA RCEA will contact the employee to find out if the employee wishes to request an accommodation.
B. Requesting Workplace Accommodations:
The process for requesting an accommodation in the workplace can be initiated by an employee contacting the ADA RCEA. Employees who are aware that their performance or compliance with conduct standards has been impacted by their disability or health condition should contact the ADA RCEA immediately if they want to seek accommodations.
C. Accommodation Request Documentation:
A Formal Request for Workplace Accommodation should be completed by the employee. Upon receipt by the ADA RCEA, the accommodation request process will officially begin. Unless the employee’s disability is readily apparent, the Workplace Accommodation Medical Form is also required to provide documentation of the disability/health condition and the relationship of the disability/health condition to the requested accommodation.
If medical documentation is necessary, it is the employee’s responsibility to have the Workplace Accommodation Medical Form completed. The employee must complete Part A of the Workplace Accommodation Medical Form before sending to a healthcare provider. The employee must ask the healthcare provider to complete Part B and email, mail, or fax the completed Workplace Accommodation Medical Form to the ADA RCEA. The employee may wish to make an appointment to discuss the accommodation request with a healthcare provider, but an appointment is not required by KU. The completed Workplace Accommodation Medical Form should be returned within 10 business days after it is requested by the ADA RCEA.
The employee’s failure to provide Workplace Accommodation Medical Form may prevent a requested accommodation from being processed and/or provided.
D. Interactive Process:
The ADA RCEA representative will facilitate communication between the employee and the employee’s supervisor as it pertains to the accommodation request. As part of that interactive process, staff from the ADA RCEA 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 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 accommodation should be provided, if any. This interactive communication will include:
- A precise description of the issue;
- How the emploee's disability and/or health condition affects their ability to perform the essential job duties;
- How the requested accomodations will assist the employee in the performance of thier essential job duties; and
- Alternative accommodations that may be effective in the meeting the employee's needs.
Upon receipt of the Workplace Accommodation Medical Form, the Director of the ADA RCEA 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 Workplace Accommodation Medical Form. 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 an 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. ADA RCEA staff 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 unit leaders are entitled to any information that is necessary to implement restrictions on the duties or work of the employee or to provide an accommodation;
- first aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if the disability might require emergency treatment or assistance during an evacuation; and
- government officials may be given information necessary to investigate the agency’s compliance with the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Supervisors who maintain Workplace Accommodation forms and related correspondence or meeting notes must keep these documents in a file separate from departmental personnel folders. All accommodation information should be appropriately secured and treated as confidential. This separation is required by federal law. Supervisors also must not discuss an employee’s disability or accommodation with the employee’s co-workers.
F. Time Frame for Processing Requests and Providing Reasonable Accommodations:
The intent is that all accommodation requests will be processed as quickly as feasible and, if approved, implemented as quickly as reasonable. As a general rule, the interactive process for accommodations will begin upon receipt of the Formal Request for Workplace Accommodation form. The employee should provide the Workplace Accommodation Medical Form within 10 business days from notification of it being required to the ADA RCEA. Upon receipt of the Medical Form, the ADA RCEA will complete its consultations with employees and/or supervisors within 30 business days. The ADA RCEA will strive to complete the process for requests, from initiation to completion, within 45 business days. Complicated requests may take additional time.
G. Workplace Accommodation Implementation:
When a workplace accommodation for an employee has been approved, both the employee and the supervisor will be notified. If the approved accommodation requires purchasing equipment or modifying the employee workspace, the cost of implementing the accommodation is the responsibility of the employee’s unit. If the implementation cost is outside the constraints of the unit’s budget, relief may be requested. Relief requests will initially go to the unit’s head supervisor. If after review implementation costs remain outside the constraints of the unit’s budget, a request for relief may be submitted to the Vice Provost for Finance or designee. A final fiscal review will be conducted to determine if the University has the funds to implement the accommodation.
H. Accommodation Follow-up:
Once an accommodation has been approved and implemented, staff from the ADA RCEA 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 accommodation. Either the employee or supervisor may request such a review at any time.
I. Dispute Resolution:
After the resolution of a workplace accommodation request by the ADA RCEA, an employee may appeal the decision to the Vice Provost for Finance or designee. An appeal must be submitted within 10 business days of the employee receiving the Workplace Accommodation Determination.
The Vice Provost for Finance or designee’s review of the appeal is limited. On appeal, the party appealing the decision must show that (1) A procedural error by the ADA RCEA affected the decision; (2) The decision to deny the accommodation was not supported by the facts or was otherwise arbitrary or capricious; and/or (3) the denial of the accommodation is a violation of law. In reviewing the appeal, the Vice Provost for Finance or designee may request additional information from the employee, the unit, or the ADA RCEA, including a written response to the appeal.
The Vice Provost for Finance or designee will respond to the appeal within 20 business days of receipt. The Vice Provost for Finance or designee’s decision on the appeal will constitute final agency action and there will be no further appeal within the University. The Vice Provost for Finance or designee may extend the time period for responding to the appeal for good cause, including time needed to receive additional information, but in no event should a decision take longer than 45 business days.
Nothing in these procedures should be construed to impede or prohibit a timely filing of a discrimination complaint with the appropriate external government agency (e.g., Kansas ADA Coordinator, Kansas Human Rights Commission, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). This procedure also does not prohibit a timely filing of an internal discrimination complaint, unrelated to a request for an accommodation, through the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access’ Discrimination Complaint Resolution Process.
Questions about the workplace accommodation dispute resolution process at KU or about the ADA, should be directed to the ADA RCEA.
J. The Timeline
To help keep track of the accommodation process, employees are encouraged to track the below steps, which can serve as a roadmap:
Date: Action Item:
__________ Review the University Workplace Accommodation Policy and procedures.
__________ Contact ADA RCEA to initiate the formal accommodation procedure.
__________ Once you receive the Formal Request for Workplace Accommodation form, visit the Job Accommodation Network website, and utilize this resource to assist you in completing your documentation. Complete the Formal Request for Workplace Accommodation form and return it to the ADA RCEA.
__________ If medical documentation is required, ensure your healthcare provider provides the Workplace Accommodation Medical Form to the ADA RCEA.
__________ Engage in the interactive process with supervisor and ADA RCEA staff to discuss what accommodations can be provided that are appropriate for the employee and the unit.
Failure of supervisors to refer employees to the ADA RCEA and failure to keep ADA requests, discussions, paperwork confidential may result in disciplinary action.
ADA Resource Center for Equity and Accessibility
1246 W. Campus Road
Lawrence, KS 66045
10/12/2020: Updated to reflect current practices.
11/29/2016: Moved policy to ADA & updated contact information
08/31/2016: Updated DLR to 10/03/2015 per HR/Abby King to begin policy review process.
04/15/2016: Added Workplace Accommodation Procedures