Disability Accommodation for Applicants and Employees

Handbook of Operating Procedures 3-3010

Disability Accommodation for Applicants and Employees

University of Texas SealEffective December 03, 2013
Executive Sponsor: VP for Diversity and Community EngagementPolicy Owner: Asst. VP - Office of Institutional Equity
I. Policy Statement 

It is the policy of The University of Texas at Austin (“University”) to provide equal access and opportunity to University employees and job applicants with disabilities in compliance with federal law, including the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) of 2008. The University prohibits discrimination based on disability in both the application process and during the employment relationship.

II. Reason for Policy 

To provide appropriate roles and responsibilities to comply with federal law regarding disability accommodations for University employees and job applicants.

III. Scope & Audience 

This policy applies to all employees and applicants for University employment.

IV. Definitions (specific to this policy) 
Disability:

with respect to an individual, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. The impairment may be permanent, chronic, or progressive. An impairment that is episodic or in remission is considered a disability under the ADAAA if the condition would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Qualified Individual with a Disability:

an individual with a disability who possesses the requisite skills, education, experience, and training for a position, and who can perform, with or without reasonable accommodation, the essential functions of the position the individual desires or holds.

Substantial Limitation (substantially limiting):

an impairment that prevents the performance of a major life activity that the average individual in the general population can perform; or a significant restriction as to the condition, manner, or duration under which an individual can perform a particular major life activity as compared to the average individual in the general population.

Reasonable Accommodation:

a modification or adjustment to the job application process or the work environment enabling a qualified individual with a disability to be eligible for a position, perform the essential functions of a position, or enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities. The University provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability in order for him or her to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of work and to enable performance of the essential functions specified in the job description.

V. Website (for policy) 
http://www.policies.utexas.edu/policies/hop/3-3010
VI. Contacts 
Contact Details Web
Office of Instutional EquityPhone:512-471-1849Website:Email:equity@utexas.edu
Human Resource Service CenterPhone:512-471-4772 Website:
Phone:Toll Free 800-687-4178
VII. Responsibilities & Procedures 
  1. Obtaining Information About Disability and Accommodation
  1. Applicants. Applicants seeking employment with the University may obtain information concerning accommodations in the application process by accessing Human Resources/Prospective Employee/Application Process webpage. Applicants may seek an accommodation for the application process or he or she may seek a workplace accommodation after the offer of employment. If an applicant has a non-obvious disability for which he or she is requesting an accommodation, the applicant or Human Resource Service Center contact will consult with the Office of Institutional Equity for resolution of the accommodation request.

Employees or Supervisors. Employees or supervisors may obtain information concerning disabilities and accommodation directly from the Office of Institutional Equity at http://www.utexas.edu/equity or by accessing information describing the accommodation process. The University will not consider an employee’s request for information as a formal request for accommodation. Refer to Section B below.

 

  1. Initiating the Accommodation Process
  1. Applicants. Applicants for employment may initiate a request for accommodation by contacting the Human Resource Service Center or his or her recruiting contact. A recruiting contact that receives a request for accommodation must immediately notify the Human Resource Service Center of such request so that official processing of the request can begin. The Office of Institutional Equity will be consulted when appropriate.
  1. Employees. Employees can initiate the accommodation process by consulting with or requesting an accommodation for a disability from the Office of Institutional Equity or by making such a request to the employee’s immediate supervisor, either verbally or in writing.
  1. Supervisors. Supervisors who receive a request for accommodation must immediately notify the Office of Institutional Equity so that official processing of the request can begin.

Any supervisor who is informed, in the course of job performance counseling, by an employee that a physical or mental condition may be affecting the employee's work performance must refer the employee to the Office of Institutional Equity, and notify that office of such referral.

 

  1. Processing the Accommodation Request
  1. Upon receipt or referral of an accommodation request from an applicant or an employee, the Office of Institutional Equity must begin the interactive accommodation process. The process will involve discussion with the applicant or employee and require supportive information from his or her health care provider.

For a current employee, the process may further require, in appropriate cases, the Office of Institutional Equity verifying the disability for the requested accommodation and contacting the supervisor to determine or verify essential job functions. After determining the employee has a covered disability under the law, the Office of Institutional Equity will engage in and facilitate discussions with the employee and his or her supervisor concerning an accommodation.

 

For additional information, please consult:

http://www.utexas.edu/equity

http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/about/accommodation.php

 

Employees or applicants who are referred to the Office of Institutional Equity but choose not to initiate the accommodation process, submit required documentation, or engage in the interactive process are not recognized by the University as having a disabling condition and thus will not receive an accommodation.

 

  1. Applicant or Employee with a Non-Obvious Disability  

An applicant or employee with a non-obvious disability must provide the Office of Institutional Equity with adequate documentation from a qualified health care professional confirming his or her disability. The University will not provide accommodations prior to the receipt of this documentation. The Office of Institutional Equity will make the final accommodation determination.

 

  1. Interactive Process

The University has developed a centralized process to maintain consistency across the University and to provide employees and applicants an opportunity to discuss his or her individual situation directly, without having to inform his or her supervisor or proposed supervisor.

 

Although employees may initially consult with the Office of Institutional Equity without first informing his or her supervisor, supervisors are an important part of the process and will be brought into the discussion about the specific impact of the medical condition on job performance and recommended accommodations. It is important to note that in having this discussion, the Office of Institutional Equity does not share the medical diagnosis or disability documentation with the supervisor, but rather maintains the focus on the limitations of the condition(s) and suggested accommodations.

 

The Office of Institutional Equity will engage in an interactive process with the applicant/employee and will review the applicant/employee’s needs in relationship to the essential functions of the position. Individuals seeking an accommodation must provide the name and contact information of his or her health care provider and complete a Release of Medical Information, which permits the Office of Institutional Equity to speak directly with the individual’s health care provider. The Request for Accommodation Form is online at http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Accommodation-Request-Form.pdf. Any disability documentation received will remain separate from the individual’s personnel file.

 

  1. Independent Medical Opinion

The Office of Institutional Equity has the authority to obtain, at University expense, an independent medical opinion concerning the impairment for which an employee seeks an accommodation. The failure of an employee to cooperate in obtaining such an opinion will result in the cancelation of the request for accommodation.

 

  1. Disability Determination

The Office of Institutional Equity will determine if the applicant or employee has a substantially limiting impairment of a major life activity that prevents the individual from performing one or more essential application or job functions, or from enjoying the same benefits and employment privileges as are enjoyed by similarly situated employees without disabilities. In cases of individuals with non-obvious disabilities, the Office of Institutional Equity will make a determination after consideration of information provided by the applicant/employee’s health care provider.

 

  1. Reasonable Accommodation Determination

When it is determined that an applicant has a disability that is covered under the law, the Office of Institutional Equity will work with the individual to make accommodations to the application process.

 

When it is determined that an employee has a disability that is covered under the law, the Office of Institutional Equity will work with the individual and the employing department to identify and discuss accommodations that will enable the individual to perform the essential functions of the job or enjoy the same benefits and privileges as similarly situated employees without disabilities.

 

  1. Confidentiality

Information acquired by the Office of Institutional Equity during the processing of accommodation requests is not a part of psychological counseling and is not subject to the confidentiality regulations applicable to such counseling services.

 

Any records or information obtained by the Office of Institutional Equity as part of the accommodation process that reflect diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment of an employee's or applicant’s medical or mental health condition are confidential and will be maintained by the Office of Institutional Equity in a separate file. Such records will be shared only with those University employees who have a need to know in order to implement the accommodation process and will not be released except as required by law.

 

  1. Complaint Procedures

Applicant or Employee. 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 to the assistant vice president, Office of Institutional Equity. The Nondiscrimination Policy (HOP 3-3020), including the complaint process may be found at http://www.policies.utexas.edu/policies/nondiscrimination-policy.

 

For Assistance: Applicants with questions regarding disability accommodations should contact Human Resource Service Center, or go to the website http://www.utexas.edu/hr/prospective/apply/process.html. Employees or supervisors with questions regarding disability accommodations should contact the Office of Institutional Equity.

XI. History 

Last review date: December 2013

        Editorial amendments made July 2, 2014


Next scheduled review date: December 2015