Employee Reasonable Accommodation Requests
Accommodations for Employees
Employees are responsible for initiating requests for any desired disability-related workplace accommodation. Where circumstances permit, the employee should utilize the process outline below. If an employee prefers, they may also call the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action to schedule an appointment to discuss their request.
If you are an employee having difficulty successfully performing duties of your job due to limitations from a disability or medical condition or if you need leave related to a disability, please contact EOEAA for a confidential conversation.
PART I: Employee Reasonable Accommodation Request – ONLINE FORM
To be completed by the employee to request a reasonable accommodation in the workplace. Information entered on the online form will be submitted to Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action to begin the interactive process.
Use of this form is not required to initiate a request but it is strongly encouraged, as it is provided as a tool to expedite the reasonable accommodation process. If the requestor does not complete the form, EOEAA may complete the form on the requestor’s behalf after having been notified of a request or may request the form be filled out during the initial meeting.
The requestor should attach their current position description to the form along with any additional supporting documentation prior to submitting it.
PART II: Health Care Provider Form – PAPER FORM
If a requestor’s disability and/or need for accommodation are not obvious or already known (e.g., from a previous request) to the University, the University is entitled to ask for and receive medical information showing that the requestor has a covered disability that requires accommodation.
In those circumstances, Part II: Health Care Provider Form is to be completed by the appropriate health care professional. The employee must bear the initial cost of verification. (This may be covered by the employee’s health insurance.)
When asking your health care professional to fill out the form, you MUST provide the individual a copy of your current position description. It is the responsibility of the requestor to see that this form is completed and submitted to EOEAA, located in 337 Dempsey Hall or submit electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After receipt, and as part of processing the request, EOEAA will explain what additional information is needed from the professional if any. The requestor should then ask his/her health care professional for the missing information, and the requestor shall provide it to EOEAA.
NOTE: All medical information obtained throughout the determination process is considered a “confidential medical record.” It must be solicited and received by the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action who will provide only information about necessary restrictions and accommodations to managers and supervisors. All medical information and the completed Reasonable Accommodation Request Form will be kept in confidential medical records files, separate from personnel records.
PART III: Interactive Process
The interactive process through which the employee provides any necessary medical documentation and the employer works with the employee to decide upon what accommodation is reasonable will occur between the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action (EOEAA) and the employee who is seeking the accommodation. The employee making the request is required to cooperate throughout the interactive process. Please keep in mind that accommodations are not required to apply retroactively.
Throughout the interactive process, the ADA Coordinator or designee may do any or all of the following:
- Meet with the employee and the supervisor to get more information concerning the request.
- Consult with the supervisor and/or personnel specialist to determine the essential functions of the job.
- Consult with University budget and purchasing specialists.
- Consult with other offices (such as IT for technological solutions or Facilities for furniture solutions) as necessary.
- Consult with the reasonable accommodation specialist in the State Division of Affirmative Action.
- With the employee’s permission, consult with any medical or rehabilitation specialists who may be working with the individual.
What constitutes a reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis, utilizing input from the affected employee whenever possible. The file and any documentation regarding an employee’s request for accommodation will be kept in the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action. This is separate from the employee’s personnel file.
If an employee disagrees with a decision regarding an accommodation request, he or she has a right to appeal the decision using the following procedure.
When an accommodation request is denied, an employee may, within 30 calendar days, appeal the decision to the Director of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action. The appeal must be in writing, stating the reason for the disagreement.
The Director will reevaluate the decision, considering any additional information from medical or vocational rehabilitation experts. The Director may consult with staff from outside agencies such as DER/DAA, DHSS/DVR or DOA 504 coordinator, in the appeal process–taking care to provide confidentiality for the employee.
The Director then discusses all information regarding the appeal with the Chancellor. The Chancellor makes the final decision regarding the appeal. The employee receives the final decision regarding the appeal in writing within 30 calendar days after the appeal was filed.
Information for Supervisors
If an employee in your unit is having difficulty performing his or her job due to a disability or chronic medical condition, the University will need to consider whether a reasonable accommodation can be made. A reasonable accommodation is any change or modification to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, and enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment equal to those without disabilities, without causing significant difficulty or disruption in the workplace or posing a health or safety threat.
As a supervisor, it is important for you to know how to recognize and respond to a potential accommodation request and to know what to do with confidential medical information. You should consult the Office of Equal Opportunity, Equity & Affirmative Action (EOEAA), which is responsible for managing reasonable accommodations and related medical leave for the University.
Recognizing a Request:
It is important for managers/supervisors to know that there are no “magic words” required for an employee to request an accommodation. Watch for an employee making a link between having difficulties in the workplace and a disability or medical issue.
When an individual decides to request an accommodation, the individual must let the employer know that they need an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. An individual may use “plain English” and need not mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation”.
- Example A: An employee tells their supervisor, “I’m having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I’m undergoing.” This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
- Example C: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that their wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in their office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
- Example D: An employee tells their supervisor that they would like a new chair because their present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, the employee’s statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that they are requesting a reasonable accommodation. The employee does not link their need for the new chair with a medical condition.
- Example E: An employee’s spouse phones the employee’s supervisor on Monday morning to inform them that the employee had a medical emergency due to multiple sclerosis, needed to be hospitalized, and thus requires time off. This discussion constitutes a request for reasonable accommodation.
All Medical Information is Confidential:
- You cannot ask if an employee has a disability or medical condition.
- You cannot disclose that an employee has a disability or medical condition or that an employee has an accommodation.
- Any medical information (written or verbal) that you receive should go to EOEAA and should not be shared with others.
Responding to a Request:
What do supervisors/managers need to do?
- Base all employment decisions (application process, hiring, training, assignments, evaluation, promotion, discipline, and termination) on an applicant’s or employee’s qualifications and performance rather than a disability or need to accommodate.
- Consult with the ADA Coordinator before making disability-related decisions.
- Follow procedures in the UW Oshkosh Reasonable Accommodation policy.
- Provide appropriate disability information (accommodation policy, procedures, and request form) to applicants/employees who need accommodations.
- Maintain confidentiality regarding the disability and accommodations (no discussion with co-workers or colleagues, no medical records in personnel files).
- Refer applicants/employees to the ADA Coordinator for information and/or assistance with reasonable accommodation procedures.
- In cooperation with EOEAA, review accommodations within your unit periodically to ensure that they are effective.
- Respond to accommodation requests in a timely manner.
As a supervisor/manager you must contact EOEAA:
- As soon as you become aware of an employee with a disability or medical condition.
- As soon as an employee requests accommodation from you.
- Before imposing disciplinary action, up to and including termination, when there is a disability or a perceived disability.
- Whenever you recognize a significant change in an employee’s attendance, performance, or behavior, or if you believe that a disability or medical condition is contributing in any way to performance, conduct, or attendance issues.
Funding for Approved Accommodations
Financial responsibility for providing reasonable accommodations (other than barrier removal projects) belongs to the employing unit. If the employing unit does not have the financial resources to provide reasonable accommodations from its own budget, the dean or director of the school/college/division should be consulted regarding other sources of funding. The appropriate Vice-Chancellor may also be consulted.