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Employee Questions

Am I required to disclose a disability?

The short answer is no.  Every job seeker with a disability is faced with the same decision: "Should I or shouldn't I disclose my disability"?  This decision may be framed differently depending upon whether you have a visible disability or a non-visible disability.  Ultimately, the decision of whether to disclose is entirely up to you.

Do I have to pay for a needed reasonable accommodation?

If the reasonable accommodation is requested based on the nature of your disability and your job, Ohio University will be responsible for financing and implementing the accommodation. You are only responsible for personal needs or elective items that are not required in order to help you perform your job based on the functional limitations of your disability.

Who is responsible for determining appropriate and reasonable accommodations at Ohio University?

The Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility in collaboration with the employee requesting the accommodation and her/his supervisor, will determine the most appropriate and reasonable accommodation.  Although the Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility makes every effort to be collaborative in identifying an appropriate accommodation that all parties agree to, the final determination for the most appropriate accommodation will be the decision of the Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility.

Can my supervisor require medical examinations or ask questions about a disability?

Due to the confidentiality protection of the ADA, your supervisor may not ask if you have a disability or the nature of a disability that you have disclosed. At Ohio University your supervisor should not request medical documentation of your disability, rather you should be referred to the Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility to facilitate the process of verifying medical documentation and determining reasonable accommodations.

A prospective employee may be asked to complete a medical examination only if the nature of the examination relates to the specific requirements of a position and is required for all applicants or eligible candidates.

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require employers to provide reasonable accommodations during the application process?

Yes! Employers have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations to enable applicants with disabilities to apply for jobs.

How are accommodations made?

The process will require coordination with the employee and supervisor to identify potential accommodations that will not interfere with the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the job. Some important points to know about seeking an accommodation are:

  • Accommodations can only be implemented from the time of the request forward
  • Determination of need for accommodation cannot undo previous consequences of poor work performance
  • All employees must be able to complete the essential functions of their position
  • Determination of reasonable accommodations is dependent upon the specific limitations of the individual’s disability and the specific functions of the job
  • Information regarding an individual’s disability is considered confidential under the ADA

How does EOA facilitate reasonable accommodation requests?

The approach used in putting together a Reasonable Accommodation Plan is to look at the "whole person" in terms of how they choose to embrace their world and their work.  We then focus on learning how the disability is presenting itself in a way that has disrupted how one desires to embrace their world and their work.  Once the learning has occurred regarding the disability's impact, the Reasonable Accommodation Plan is developed in partnership with the person requesting support and their supervisor.  There are four steps:

Step One: The Request for Accommodation is made by contacting the Office for Opportunity and Accessibility, 006 Lindley Hall, 740-593-9132.
Step Two: Verification of Eligibility Status for Reasonable Accommodation
Step Three: Determine the Appropriate Accommodation
Step Four: Accommodation Check-in and Evaluation

How does the ADA define a "major life activity"?

In general, major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communication, and working.  A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

How long will it take before I receive a reasonable accommodation?

It will depend on the complexity of the disability impact.  However, the majority of the accommodations are able to be implemented quickly.

My disability is making it hard for me to perform my job; what should I do?

It is the policy of Ohio University to ensure individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity in employment and promotion by means of reasonable accommodation consistent with Sections 502, 503, and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.

If you are experiencing difficulty on your job you can speak with your supervisor (who should notify the Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility)  or contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility directly to determine if you meet the qualifications to be considered an employee with a disability and may be eligible for accommodations. You can call 740-593-9132 to start your request.

The Question of Confidentiality

The Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility treats all materials provided to the office as confidential and uses the materials only to establish eligibility for reasonable accommodation under the ADA.  The materials are also used to assist in identifying accommodation plans.

Under the ADA what protections do I have in the workforce?

The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of disability in all employment processes such as recruitment, hiring, firing, training, job assignments, promotions, pay, benefits, and leave.

What employees are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

In general, the ADA prohibits discrimination against a qualified person with a disability.  There are no affirmative action requirements in the ADA.  An employer can still hire the most qualified person for the job as long as the disability is not used to disqualify a person.

A "qualified person with a disability" is one who is able to perform the essential functions of a job with or without a reasonable accommodation.  The "essential functions" of a job include those job tasks which are fundamental to the position, rather than marginal.  For example, an essential function for a receptionist is to greet and direct visitors, not to hang coats.  Employers should revise job descriptions to reflect the essential functions and approximate time spent on each task. (The Council for Disability Rights)

What is a "Reasonable Accommodation"?

The United States Department of Justice defines as reasonable accommodation as "any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities."

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The ADA is a federal civil rights law for people with disabilities, comparable to civil rights law passed in the 1960s for other minorities.  It covers employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, and telecommunications for the deaf (The Council for Disability Rights).

The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 ("ADA Amendments Act" or "Act") emphasizes that the definition of disability should be construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of the ADA and generally shall not require extensive analysis.  The effect of these changes is to make it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the ADA.

What is the process for requesting workplace accommodations?

The request for a reasonable accommodation as an employee at Ohio University may be initiated by the employee at any time. The request may be directed to a supervisor or the Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility however it is EOA that will facilitate the process. EOA will review disability documentation to determine that an employee meets the definition of an individual with a disability. Once an individual is qualified for reasonable accommodation(s), the process for determining the accommodation(s) becomes interactive.

What kinds of reasonable accommodations are there?

There are a number of possible accommodations that an employer may have to provide in connection with modifications to the work environment or adjustments in how and when a job is performed.  These include:

1) making existing facilities accessible;
2) job restructuring;
3) reducing to part-time or modifying work schedules;
4) acquiring or modifying equipment;
5) changing tests, training materials, or policies;
6) providing qualified readers or interpreters; and
7) reassigning to a vacant position.

Who within the Ohio University community is eligible to receive reasonable accommodation support from EOA?

If you are working for the University at the Athens Campus, or any of its regional campuses, and meet the eligibility standard for being a person with disabilities you are able to receive accommodation support from the Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility

Can my supervisor require medical examinations or ask questions about a disability?

Due to the confidentiality protection of the ADA, your supervisor may not ask if you have a disability or the nature of a disability that you have disclosed. At Ohio University your supervisor should not request medical documentation of your disability, rather you should be referred to the EOA to facilitate the process of verifying medical documentation and determining reasonable accommodations.

A prospective employee may be asked to complete a medical examination only if the nature of the examination relates to the specific requirements of a position and is required for all applicants or eligible candidates.

Who is a "qualified individual with a disability"?

An individual with a disability is defined as an individual who:

  • has a physical or mental impairment that substantially
  • limits one (1) or more major life activities;
  • has a record of such impairment;
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Examples of individuals who are covered under this definition include:

  • individuals with permanent vision or hearing loss;
  • individuals with mobility impairments;
  • individuals with mental or psychological disorders
  • including intellectual disabilities;
  • individuals with cosmetic disfigurements;
  • individuals with serious contagious and non-contagious diseases such as AIDS, cancer, or epilepsy.

Generally, individuals who have temporary limitations are not considered to have a disability under the ADA.

What type of documentation will I need?

In order to help the Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility make an informed determination of eligibility and recommendations for accommodations, please have the appropriate healthcare practitioner complete the Medical Inquiry Form and submit the form to EOA. The form may be downloaded by you or the medical professional here.

Supervisor Questions

Are supervisors at Ohio University legally responsible for accommodating qualified employees with disabilities?

The law requires that the University formally consider reasonable modifications regarding how qualified individuals with disabilities perform their essential duties.  Supervisors are expected to contact the Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility when a request for a reasonable accommodation has been requested of them.  The responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations falls into these three categories:

1. Equal opportunity in the application process.
2. Support of employees with disabilities ability to perform essential job functions.
3. Enabling employees with disabilities to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by employees with disabilities

What should supervisors do if an employee reports having a disability?

Contact the Office for Equal Opportunity and Accessibility, 006 Lindley Hall, 740-593-9132.

Complaints/Concerns

If I believe I have been discriminated against because of my status as a person with a disability, what should I do?

Contact the Director of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance, 006 Lindley Hall, 740-593-9140.

What is the process for reviewing a denial of a reasonable accommodation or inability to agree on an accommodation in the workplace?

Review of decisions to deny requests for accommodation in the application process or workplace may be made to the University ADA/504 Coordinator, who will attempt to resolve the dispute informally.  In the event that an informal resolution is not possible, the ADA/504 Coordinator shall render a final written decision in regards to the reasonableness of the accommodation under the circumstances.  For more information on the University's policy on the Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance, visit http://www.ohio.edu/policy/03-003.html.

Resources/Forms

What are some ADA related web sites?

A Guide to Disability Rights Law
http://www.ncd.gov/

Job Accommodation Network
http://askjan.org/

Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html#intro

Disability Rights Ohio
http://www.disabilityrightsohio.org/

The Council for Disability Rights
http://www.disabilityrights.org/index.htm

ADA.Gov
http://www.ada.gov/

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design
http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm

Where can I go to learn about disability rights laws?

There are many resources available on the internet.  As a first step, we recommend reviewing the guides available at DisabilityRightsOhio.org.

Students

Does this include Ohio University students?

Yes, students who are working at Ohio University are also eligible for reasonable accommodations within their work setting.

Who should I contact to learn about available support services for an undergraduate or graduate student living with disabilities?

Contact Student Accessibility Services ( www.ohio.edu/disabilities ) located in Baker University Center, Suite 348.  740-593-2620 (phone)