The Employee Disability Accommodation Process is a collaborative and interactive process between the staff member, the supervisor (if necessary), Human Resources (HR) and the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity (if necessary.)
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person is considered to have a disability if (1) they have a medical, physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as, but not limited to, hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning, major bodily function; (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.
A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits an otherwise qualified person with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by staff without disabilities and does not create an undue hardship for the employer.
Steps in Accommodation Process
- Employee approaches you for disability accommodation. This is one option for employees. Many employees will approach their supervisor first. However, all employee may request and Accommodation directly from Human Resources without approaching their supervisor.
- Provide employee with Employee Disability Accommodation Request Form. The employee must complete the Employee Disability Accommodation Request Form and it must be forwarded to HR even if you are able to resolve the accommodation within your office.
- Simple accommodations can be handled by you directly. Inexpensive accommodations (something that is similar to other routine departmental costs) and accommodations that are apparent and do not require documentation by a medical provider need not be forwarded to HR before you make the accommodation.
- All other accommodation requests should be forwarded to HR. Any accommodation that requires medical provider documentation, a change in job function or substantial expense must be forwarded to HR to begin the interactive process between the Employee, your office, HR and their medical provider (if necessary). HR will contact you prior to finalizing the accommodation, if needed.
- Do not accept or request medical documentation yourself. You may direct the Employee with the Employee Disability Accommodation Request Medical Documentation Form for their reference before referring them to HR. However the employee must return this form to the appropriate HR office. Supervisors should not accept or retain any medical documentation.
Disability Accommodation Best Practices For Supervisor
- Conversations regarding accommodation requests should be handled discretely and privately. Even if an Employee approaches the Supervisor in a public area of the office or in front of other employees, Supervisor should politely move the conversation to a discrete location or schedule it for a later time when a discrete conversation can be managed.
- Many disabilities are not obvious or may be intermittent. Do not judge the validity of any accommodation request based on what you have observed. Tell the employee that any disability accommodation requests that are not obvious to a lay person require documentation from a medical provider and direct them to the appropriate HR office.
- Any expenditure in excess of routine departmental costs requires medical documentation and must be referred to HR. Stony Brook may provide basic equipment such as alternative keyboards/mouse or other equipment of similar value without medical documentation. Due to budgetary constraints accommodation requests for ergonomic chairs, software, and more expensive items require medical documentation as it could be cost prohibitive to provide such items for multiple employees.
- Employees should approach you with a request for accommodation. Supervisor should not prompt an employees that they need or might need an accommodation or that some type of accommodation might resolve a performance issue. Issues regarding performance based on a suspected need for disability accommodation should be treated like any ordinary performance issue.
- All information regarding any employees request for or on-going disability accommodation must be kept confidential. Employees have an expectation of privacy in any information that they communicate to you or to HR regarding a disability accommodation request. It is imperative that you respect their privacy.
- Accommodations are about providing a person with a disability equal access to employment. Once an accommodation is implemented, all other aspects of that employee’s rights and responsibilities as a member of the staff remain the same.