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Information for Supervisors

The DRC partners with supervisors to create accessible workplace environments and implement reasonable accommodations for employees. The Workplace Access staff is available to consult with supervisors about how to create work environments that are accessible and inclusive for a diverse range of employees, making it less necessary to implement accommodations on an individual basis.


What is a Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is a change to an application process, work environment, or the way work is customarily performed that enables a disabled or pregnant employee to enjoy equal access.  Personal items/devices (e.g., glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, etc.) are not considered reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations are generally centrally funded through the DRC.  The DRC does not pay the cost of temporary employees or other staff to perform the essential functions of an employee’s position when an employee is temporarily or permanently unable to do so, because this is not considered a reasonable accommodation.


Interactive Process for Exploring Accommodations:

If an employee suggests that she may need a change to a work environment or the way work is performed because of a medical condition, pregnancy, or disability, and this is not a request that you would normally approve as part of your usual department practice, the employee should be referred to the DRC. The employee is not required to use the words “reasonable accommodation."  Please do not deny any potential requests for accommodation before the DRC has an opportunity to thoroughly evaluate the request(s) and possible alternatives.

If an employee requests reasonable accommodation(s) through the DRC, a member of the Workplace Access staff will contact you to discuss the request. The Workplace Access staff member may request a copy of the employee’s job description and ask you questions about the employee’s duties and responsibilities, including the frequency with which particular tasks are performed. The DRC greatly appreciates your prompt response and partnership throughout this process.

Determination Letter:  Based on the information gathered from the employee, medical provider, supervisor, and other individuals as appropriate, the DRC will make a determination about whether an employee is eligible for accommodations and whether the requested accommodation is reasonable, and will communicate its determination in writing to the employee and copy the supervisor.

Confidentiality: The Determination Letter and any information about an employee’s requested or implemented accommodation should be maintained confidential, except from University employees who have a legitimate business need to know.  Please consult with the DRC about which University employees may have a legitimate need to know before sharing information.  An employee’s co-workers do not generally have a legitimate need to know about an employee’s accommodation.  If needed, you may consult with the DRC about ways to explain why an employee might be performing work differently without sharing information about the implemented accommodation.


Examples of Reasonable Accommodations:

Sample Scenarios:

The following statements could be requests for accommodation. If it is part of your department’s typical practice to approve certain types of requests (e.g., to work remotely, receive additional leave, or receive light duty), you may approve these types of requests without referring an employee to the DRC. Before denying such a request, the employee should be referred to the DRC for consultation.

  • “I have exhausted all of my FML, but my doctor has not released me to return to work. I need an additional month of leave.”
  • “My doctor has released me to return to work after my shoulder surgery, but I’m unable to lift 20 pounds for the next six weeks.”
  • “I recently started using hearing aids, but I am still having trouble hearing sometimes when I am using my office phone.”
  • “I’m having a hard time making it across campus for meetings because of my arthritis.”
  • “Because of some health issues, I’d like to be able to work from home once a week.”