Handling Employee Requests for Accommodations
When an employee asks a supervisor for a job modification or accommodation, the unit should contact the ADA Office to discuss. Employees do not necessarily need to use the word “accommodation” to make a request. Plain language, simply stating that they are having difficulty due to a medical condition, is enough to begin the request process. Any information regarding a disability must be kept strictly confidential and should only be shared on a need-to-know basis.
Anytime the supervisor is unsure whether to provide an accommodation, the ADA Coordinator must be contacted. Some accommodations, such as an ergonomic chair or permission to temporarily shift a work schedule for physical therapy, are easily approved by a supervisor. These type of “common sense” solutions should be considered as part of regular business practices. Other accommodations may be more complex, so referral to the ADA Office is the recommended procedure.
Only the ADA Office should engage in a formal interactive process, gathering relevant medical documentation to assess whether to provide a reasonable accommodation. The ADA Office will determine if the employee has a qualifying disability and then engage in the interactive process between the employee and employer to determine if reasonable accommodations can be provided.
The following resources may be useful to employers who want to know more about accommodations and working effectively with employees with disabilities.