Laura Myers

Laura Myers

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Institutional Equity explains new focus

For over three decades, the Office for Institutional Equity has served as Ohio University’s civil rights compliance office. There have been a number of changes recently at the Office for Institutional Equity with the arrival of two new staff members, Darrell Purdy and Inya Baiye, but our commitment to making Ohio University an accessible, inclusive, equal opportunity educational and employment environment remains the same.

While we are still proud to serve as an arbitrator for fair process and solutions in matters of protected status discrimination for all members of the OHIO community - students, faculty and staff across all campuses.

Beginning in January 2012, we are now facilitating all employee requests for reasonable accommodation due to disability.

A focus of our current outreach and education on all campuses is to discuss our office’s changing role in determining reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities. In prior years, the Office of Disability Services (ODS) handled all accommodations for faculty, staff and students. With ODS’ move to University College, and under the direction of Carey Busch, ODS has refocused as an academic support office for students. Institutional Equity is enthusiastic to take on the new responsibilities of meeting employee needs.

Darrell Purdy, as assistant director for employee accommodation and campus accessibility, will serve all employees from all campuses in finding the reasonable accommodations that may help employees meet their full potential in the workplace.

The charge of fulfilling employee accommodation request has come to Institutional Equity for many reasons. Foremost, it is because the needs of employees are different from those of students. Where most students are at Ohio University for four years, and accommodations are reviewed quarterly with their class schedules, faculty and staff often have much longer relationships with the University and their needs may change across time. Over a 10, 15 or 25 year career a person's needs change. Our desire is to be effective in acknowledging where we can make changes to retain that faculty or staff member and their expertise.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended, requires organizations such as ours to provide “reasonable accommodation” to employees who are otherwise qualified to do the job but who are impaired by the effects of a medical condition-- mental or physical.

I encourage employees with medical issues that are impacting their ability to fulfill the requirements of their jobs to contact our office.

Many times a disability is invisible or not immediately obvious, and needs may change over time. A goal of our office is to help units and departments help their employees go beyond mere “coping” or “getting by” to thriving in the workplace, regardless of disability.

All meetings are private and the information is kept confidential. When we come to your supervisor to discuss possible accommodations, we keep your medical history private.

We encourage you to inform your supervisor that you may need a reasonable accommodation. You are not required to disclose the particulars of your medical diagnosis, treatment or prognosis to your unit to receive a reasonable accommodation. Institutional Equity can facilitate your discussions with your department, provide insight and expertise about disability law and reasonable accommodation, and ease the concerns that some employees (and supervisors) may feel about discussing personal medical information.

While accessibility has been a focus of our outreach recently, Institutional Equity remains available as a resource for any student or employee who believes he or she has been affected by discrimination or harassment. Our office is responsible for ensuring Ohio University's compliance with University equal opportunity/non-discrimination policies. These policies are based on federal and state law such as The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Executive Order 11246, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, to name a few. Baiye, as assistant director for civil rights compliance, is available to hear your concerns and seek resolution of complaints of discrimination and harassment.

At Institutional Equity, we are all also personally committed to the principles Ohio University's non-discrimination policies. Our goal is to treat everyone respectfully, identify problems and solutions, and to provide fair process to the entire University community.