University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

Reasonable Accommodation of Employees with Disabilities

(Approved by the President per delegations of authority Executive Order No. 4 and Administrative Order No. 9)

1.  Purpose

This policy is established in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA or Amendments Act), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-11), and 45 CFR Part 84; Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 49.60; Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapters 162-22, and 357-46-160 through 357-46-175.

University policy is to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment. An individual with a disability may request reasonable accommodation in all aspects of employment. Requesting reasonable accommodation will not adversely affect an individual's consideration for employment, training, promotion, or opportunity to enjoy equal terms, benefits, privileges, or conditions of employment.

Information contained in communications regarding University activities or opportunities covered by this policy will be made available to an employee with a disability in a manner or format that is accessible to that employee.

2.  Definitions

A.   Individual With a Disability

For purposes of accommodation, an individual with a disability is one who has a sensory, mental, or physical impairment that has a substantially limiting effect upon the individual's ability to perform their job, the individual's ability to apply or be considered for a job, or the individual's access to equal benefits, privileges, or terms or conditions of employment. An employee or applicant can show that they have such an impairment if it is medically cognizable or diagnosable, or they have a history or record of such an impairment.

B.   Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation means modifying or adjusting practices, procedures, policies, job duties, or the work or application environment so that a qualified individual with a disability can perform a position's essential functions, and/or enjoy equal employment opportunity. Reasonable accommodation will be implemented as long as:

  #1 It is medically necessary (i.e., there is competent medical evidence establishing a relationship between the disability and the need for accommodation), and

  #2 It does not impose an undue hardship on the University.

C.   Qualified Individual With a Disability

A "qualified individual with a disability" is a person with a disability who meets the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position held or desired, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job.

D.   Essential Functions of a Job

Essential functions are the fundamental job duties or requirements of a position. Essential functions cannot be eliminated or substantially modified without changing the nature of the position. Essential functions do not include the marginal functions of the position.

E.   Health Care Professional

Health care professional means a person who is legally competent to diagnose and/or treat the particular medical condition or conditions which are the basis of the accommodation request.

F.   Undue Hardship

Undue hardship means, among other things, an excessively costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive modification, or one that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the institution or program.

3.  The University's Accommodation Request Process

An employee or job applicant initiates a disability accommodation request in accordance with the procedures detailed on the Disability Services Office webpage.

Employee cooperation and participation is necessary throughout the accommodation process. Among other things, employees may be asked to attend meetings to discuss their accommodation needs, provide relevant documentation about the disability and its functional limitations, and provide documentation of skills, abilities, training, and/or work experience.

A supervisor or manager may not deny an individual's request for reasonable accommodation without first consulting with the unit's Human Resources Consultant or the Disabilities Services Office. A supervisor or manager with questions about the nature of a request or whether a request has actually been made should consult with Human Resources or Disability Services as soon as possible.

4.  Medical Documentation

When an individual's disability is not readily apparent, the disability has not been previously documented, and/or the reasonableness of an accommodation request is not obvious, the University may request that the employee or applicant provide information from an appropriate health care professional regarding the disability, its functional limitations, and need for reasonable accommodation. If an individual provides insufficient information from their health care professional, the University may require the individual to go to a health care professional of its choice, and at its expense, to substantiate the individual's disability and the functional limitations that require reasonable accommodation.

The Health Care Provider Statement to be completed is available on the Disability Services Office website. To the extent possible and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, all information regarding the presence or nature of an individual's disability is treated as a confidential medical record and is maintained in a secure manner, apart from personnel files and with access restricted to designated personnel on a need to know basis.

5.  Reassignment to a Vacant Position

Reassignment to a vacant position may be provided as an accommodation to an employee who, because of a disability, can no longer perform the essential functions of their current position, with or without reasonable accommodation, and is able to work at least half-time in another job. The employee must possess the required skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position. The University does not create new positions, displace other employees, offer promotion, or any increase in pay as a form of accommodation.

6.  Noncooperation

A qualified individual with a disability can refuse an accommodation, but if the individual is unable or unwilling to perform the essential functions of a job at a satisfactory level without the accommodation, the lack of performance will be handled through the applicable disciplinary process.

In addition, refusal to cooperate in the accommodation process may result in separation.

7.  Accommodating Job Applicants

Job announcements and advertisements include notification of the right to make an accommodation request and information as to how to make one. Staff that provide information about job openings and the application process are prepared to arrange and provide reasonable accommodations for applicants.

Timely response to an accommodation request is essential to providing equal opportunity. If a request for reasonable accommodation does not receive timely response, the University may extend application or other deadlines.

Qualification standards, employment tests, or other selection criteria may not screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability unless the tests or selection criteria are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

8.  Complaint Procedure

The University has internal complaint procedures for addressing complaints about the conduct of University employees, including those who were involved in the accommodation process. See APS 46.3 for a description of the available complaint procedures.

Individuals may also address complaints to external agencies.

9.  Additional Information and Responsible Offices

Questions regarding the application of this policy, or of Washington State Executive Order 96-04, may be directed to the appropriate Human Resources Service Team Member (for staff employees) or to the Disability Services Office (for academic employees and appointees). To request this information in an alternate format, contact the Disability Services Office.

May 1, 2002; November 17, 2005; June 14, 2018.