Disabilities and Reasonable Accommodations in Employment

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Policy Code: 
Approval Authority: 
Policy Type: 
University Policy
Policy Owner: 
Administration and Finance
Responsible Office: 
Human Resources - 828.251.6605

I. Purpose      

This policy was developed to assist the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNC Asheville) in processing requests for accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the ADA Amendment Act of 2008, and other relevant local, state, and federal laws protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and to maintain equal opportunity in employment for all qualified persons with disabilities.

II. Scope

This policy applies to all UNC Asheville employees with disabilities.  Additionally, this policy covers qualified applicants to vacant positions at UNC Asheville.

III. Policy

It is the policy of the University of North Carolina at Asheville to provide equal employment opportunities and, if requested, reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities unless the accommodations would impose an undue hardship for the University.  The University’s intent is to ensure that employees and applicants for employment who request accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the ADA Amendment Act (ADAAA) or the Rehabilitation Act are promptly and properly advised of the accommodation process.  The University is committed to following the requirements of the ADA and ADAAA and other relevant local, federal and state laws, rules and regulations.  The University will not tolerate unlawful discrimination of any kind.  This policy also prohibits retaliation against employees requesting reasonable accommodation.

IV. Definitions   

A. Disability:  A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or bodily functions, having a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.

B. Major life activities:  Functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working. This list is not exhaustive.

C. Bodily functions: includes, but is not limited to functions of the immune system, cell growth, digestive, bladder and bowel functions, neurological and brain functions, respiratory and circulatory functions, endocrine functions and reproductive functions.

D. Essential Job Functions:  The fundamental duties of the position or the primary reasons the position exists.  Essential functions must be listed in the job description. A partial list of factors that should be considered in determining if a particular function is essential includes:

  1. a supervisor’s judgment as to which functions are essential;
  2. the amount of time spent performing the function;
  3. the consequences of not requiring an incumbent to perform the function;
  4. the work experiences of past incumbents in the job; and
  5. the current work experience of incumbents in similar jobs.

E. Secondary Job Functions:  A job function that would be considered a supporting job task.  Although included in the complete description of the position’s duties, a secondary job function could be reassigned to others and/or is performed a lesser percentage of time as compared to the essential functions.  Secondary job functions may also be eliminated. Secondary job functions would be, by definition, non-essential tasks.

F. Qualified Individual with a Disability:  An employee or applicant with a disability who satisfies the pre-requisites of a position desired or held and can perform the essential functions of the position, with or without accommodation.

G. Accommodation:  A modification or adjustment to a job, a work practice or the work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job.   

 H. Undue Hardship:  An action that would result in significant difficulty or expense to the employer when considered in light of other factors, such as the size of the employment organization, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.

 I. Reasonable Accommodation: An accommodation that does not cause undue hardship to the employer, as determined by the employer.

J. Substantially limits:  An impairment is substantially limiting if it restricts the duration, manner, or condition under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the ability of the average person in the general population to perform that same major life activity.

 K. ADA Coordinator:  Coordinates University policies and procedures relating to persons with disabilities to assure compliance with the ADA and other federal and state laws and regulations pertaining to persons with disabilities.  The Director of Employee Relations serves as UNC Asheville’s ADA Coordinator for employees and applicants.

Director of Employee Relations / ADA Coordinator
The University of North Carolina at Asheville
Phillips Hall, One University HeightsCPO# 1450
Asheville, NC 28804
(828) 251-6605

V. Procedure       

A. Employee Responsibilities

1. An employee should request a review of accommodations if he/she is or becomes unable to perform the essential functions of the job.  To request a review, the employee must submit an Accommodation Request Form to the ADA Coordinator.  Employees seeking information about reasonable accommodation(s) under the ADA should contact the ADA Coordinator.

 2. An employee may request temporary accommodations during the period the request is under review.  Temporary accommodations provided by the University will be for the purpose of creating an environment where the employee can perform the essential requirements of the job while the eligibility review is pending.  These considerations do not affect the eligibility decision that will come from the ADA Coordinator.

 3. The employee must have his/her diagnostician complete the Documentation of Disability Form and submit the form directly to the ADA Coordinator.  The ADA Coordinator may require additional documentation from the diagnostician to make an eligibility determination.

 4. If the ADA Coordinator determines that the employee is eligible, the employee will consult with the ADA Coordinator and the employee's supervisor to develop possible reasonable accommodations.

 5. Medical costs associated with the reasonable accommodation request may be the responsibility of the employee in certain circumstances.  Contact the ADA Coordinator for further information.

 B. University Responsibilities

1. ADA Coordinator Responsibilities - The ADA Coordinator is responsible for determining whether an employee is a qualified individual under applicable disability law for purposes of considering a reasonable accommodation in employment.  The ADA Coordinator will:

 a. Work with the employee to obtain technical assistance, as needed, in filing the accommodation request;

 b. Notify both the employee and the supervisor of the determination on the employee’s eligibility;

 c. Initiate and then facilitate an interactive process between the employee and the supervisor to identify possible reasonable accommodations that will allow the employee to perform the essential job functions of his/her particular job;

 d. Provide the employee with a written decision on the requested accommodation(s) within a reasonable amount of time, not to exceed 30 days from the original employee request, unless a longer time is agreed upon by the employee and the employer.

 2. Supervisor Responsibilities – In consultation with the ADA Coordinator, the supervisor should follow these steps in making the determination:

 a. Analyze the employee’s particular job to determine its essential functions;

 b. Consult with the individual to determine how the disability limits the employee’s functioning in the job and whether such limitations can be overcome by accommodations;

c. Assess potential accommodations and the effect each would have in allowing the employee to perform the essential functions of the job, and provide input to the ADA Coordinator as to whether the accommodations pose an undue hardship on the university; and

 d. Select accommodation, if feasible, that is appropriate for the individual and does not cause an undue hardship to the University.  While an employee’s preference will be given consideration, the University is not obligated to select the accommodation proposed by the employee, but may choose among reasonably effective accommodations and may choose one that is less expensive or more feasible to provide.

 3. Possible Accommodations – Determined on a case-by-case basis, possible accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

 a. Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities;

 b. Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position; or

 c. Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, or

 d. Providing auxiliary aids or services.

 While supervisors and the ADA Coordinator will know the functional limitations of an employee and the ADA Coordinator will have access to medical documentation regarding an employee’s diagnosis, the information will be kept confidential and revealed to others on a “need to know” basis.

 VI. Applicant Request for Accommodation(s)

 A. Applicants who desire an accommodation in the application process should contact the University’s ADA Coordinator. 

 B. During the hiring process, if a hiring official is notified by an applicant of a need for accommodation, the hiring official should contact the ADA Coordinator for assistance.  The ADA Coordinator will discuss the needed accommodation and possible alternatives with the applicant.

 C. The ADA Coordinator will determine whether an individual is a qualified individual under applicable disability law for purposes of considering a reasonable accommodation and, if approved, take the necessary steps to implement the accommodation.

 VII. Grievances/Appeals

 The University attempts to resolve disagreements about reasonable accommodations at an early stage.  Individuals who believe they have been treated in a discriminatory manner in violation of this policy, or in violation of the ADA or other relevant local, state, and federal laws, are encouraged to contact the Office of Human Resources or the ADA Coordinator.   If an employee believes that a determination under this regulation (regarding eligibility for a reasonable accommodation or provision of a reasonable accommodation) has been reached improperly or unfairly, that employee may file a formal grievance through the established grievance procedures applicable to that classification of employee.