Reasonable Accommodation

Dated:  March 1, 2016
Category:  Employee Relations/Compliance
Contact:  Director of Employee Relations, Compliance and EHRA Non Faculty Administration - Ext. 7-6059

General

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) provides reasonable accommodation to employees and/or applicants who are disabled or become disabled and need assistance to perform the essential functions of their positions.

The purpose of the following is to assist qualified UNC Charlotte employees and/or applicants with disabilities in requesting reasonable accommodations related to position responsibilities.  This procedure applies to all qualified applicants and university employees with disabilities.  This includes SHRA and EHRA employees who are in assignments considered part-time, full-time, probationary, career status, adjunct, or temporary (which includes student employees[1]). 

The overall intent of this guidance is to ensure that UNC Charlotte fully complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and maintains equal opportunity in employment for all qualified individuals with a disability.

Employees and/or applicants are protected from retaliation for requesting an accommodation or disclosing a disability.    

Definitions

  • Disability - a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.
  • Qualified Individuals with Disabilities - a qualified employee or applicant with a disability is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.
  • Reasonable Accommodation – a modification or adjustment to a job, an employment practice, or the work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.
  • Undue Hardship - an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an employer's size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.
  • Essential Functions – the fundamental duties of the position or the primary reasons the position exists.

Types of Reasonable Accommodations

Following are some examples of different accommodations that may be considered:

  • Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities
  • Job restructuring, modifying work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position
  • Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies, and providing qualified readers or interpreters
  • Use of accessible campus-wide transportation services

UNC Charlotte is not obligated to provide personal use items needed in accomplishing daily activities both on and off the job or personal use amenities such as:

  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Wheelchair/Scooter
  • Refrigerator
  • Transportation to and from work
  • Items not provided to employees without disabilities

Requesting Reasonable Accommodation

Current employees or applicants who have received an offer of employment:

1. To request a reasonable accommodation, an employee or applicant offered employment should submit an Accommodation Request Form (link to web site) outlining their need for accommodation to their supervisor, hiring official, or a member of the Employee Relations staff in the Human Resources Department.  Supervisors who have been notified by an employee for an accommodation should contact the Employee Relations Unit for assistance.  The form must identify the functional limitations with respect to the disability, and identify the requested accommodation(s). 

2. An individual who identifies him/herself as having a disability and requests a reasonable accommodation may be required to provide documentation to the Employee Relations Unit, including medical records, sufficient to establish the existence of the claimed physical or mental impairment and the need for accommodation. The information should be current (within the last six months) and have been prepared by a qualified professional.   Note:  Supporting documentation would be requested by the Employee Relations staff and would be submitted by the requester directly to the Employee Relations staff member.  Any documentation received will be considered confidential and kept in a secured file separate from the employee’s personnel file.  Employees are not required to provide medical documentation directly to their supervisor or other departmental management and are advised to notify the Employee Relations Unit if they are asked to do so.

3. The University may require the employee, or applicant receiving an employment offer, to undergo further evaluation by qualified professionals to verify or further establish the claimed disability, the need for an accommodation, and to provide a basis upon which a reasonable accommodation can be developed or implemented.

4. If an employee is having difficulty performing his/her job, the supervisor, in consultation with Employee Relations staff, should inform the employee of the existence of University’s policy to provide reasonable accommodations. If the employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the procedures in this policy shall apply. However, if the employee does not request an accommodation, an accommodation will not be offered nor provided.

5. In cases where the disability is obvious and the requested accommodation is agreed upon and implemented by the supervisor, hiring manager, or other departmental staff, the accommodation must be documented by notifying the Employee Relations Unit of the name of the employee, date of accommodation, type of accommodation made, and any costs incurred as a result of the accommodation.   For example, a wheelchair user requesting to use a workstation that is larger and more accessible is implemented by simply relocating other employees to different workstations and moving the employee into the larger workstation.

6. Employees who require accommodation while traveling on University business are expected to contact transportation carriers (i.e. airlines, car rental companies, etc.), hotels, conference venues, etc. and request accommodations prior to submitting a request to their supervisor or the Human Resources Department.  In most cases, companies serving the public are obligated to, and able to, accommodate individual requests. 

a. If there is a charge incurred to accommodate the request, or an accommodation is denied and an exception to University travel policies is needed, employees need to submit a Request for Accommodation prior to traveling.  Documentation showing a request was made and denied may be required.   

b. When the accommodation requires a modification to University travel policies, information regarding the request and accommodation granted is shared with appropriate staff in Financial Services if needed (information regarding the specific medical condition is considered confidential and is not shared by the Human Resources Department).

c. Employees who are unable to use motor fleet services and need to use their personal vehicle for travel due to a disability need to submit a Request for Accommodation in order for an exception to be made to University travel policies regarding mileage reimbursement.  This does not apply to employees who desire to use their own vehicle because of personal preference or comfort.

Applicants for Employment:

1. Applicants invited for an interview should be informed of UNC Charlotte’s policy requiring reasonable accommodations during the hiring process.  For example, it is good practice to ask applicants to let you know if they need any accommodation when they are contacted for an interview.

2. All applicants should make requests for accommodations through the contact person as identified in the vacancy announcement or the Human Resources Department. When requested by an applicant with a disability, the University is prepared to modify or adjust the job application process to make reasonable accommodation enable the applicant to be considered for the position he/she desires.   

3. Each applicant is responsible for making timely and complete disclosures and specific requests regarding accommodations to meet his or her particular needs in order to enable the Human Resources staff to provide an appropriate response. It is strongly recommended that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible to avoid delays in providing reasonable accommodations.   

4. An interviewer may not ask an applicant whether or not he/she has a disability. This includes any type of disability. If the applicant volunteers information about a disability, the interviewer shall not ask any questions relating to the nature or extent of the disability or whether treatment will be necessary.

5. With respect to the ability to perform required job duties, an interviewer may ask each applicant whether or not he/she is able to perform the essential functions of the job applied for with or without reasonable accommodation.  

a. If an applicant indicates in response to such an inquiry that he/she can perform the essential functions of the job but does not volunteer comment on the need for accommodation, then no inquiry shall be made about the need for an accommodation.

b. If, however, the applicant indicates in response to such an inquiry that he/she can perform the essential functions of the job and does volunteer the need for an accommodation, the interviewer may ask the applicant how he/she will perform the essential functions of the position and what accommodation will be necessary.

Reviewing Requests

As each individual is unique, each request for an accommodation shall be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. The employee or applicant will be involved in the process of determining potential reasonable accommodations. 

The following are considered when reviewing requests:

1. An analysis of the job requirements and identified essential and non-essential job functions.  A job function is essential if the job exists to perform that function. For example, for a position as a proofreader, the ability to read documents accurately is an essential function because that is the reason the position exists.  Additionally, a job function may be essential because of the limited number of employees available to perform the function, or among whom the function can be distributed.

2. Identify job-related limitations by consulting with the individual and by reviewing documented functional limitations.

3. The individual and his or her health care provider may be asked to provide documented information concerning the individual’s work restrictions. A current job description that outlines essential and non-essential job functions must be used by the health care provider to determine the functional capabilities of the individual and as a basis for recommendations for the University to consider. 

4. The University is not obligated to provide a requested accommodation if to do so would pose an undue hardship. Undue hardship is defined as any action requiring significant difficulty or expense, taking into account such factors as:

  • Nature and cost of the accommodation
  • Overall financial resources of the campus
  • Number of persons employed in the facility
  • Effect of the reasonable accommodation on resources
  • Impact of the accommodation on operations
  • Eliminating an essential function of the position
  • Lowering quality or production standards

No single factor is intended to have any particular weight.  Rather, all the factors are considered together in determining whether providing an accommodation imposes an undue hardship on the campus.

Providing Accommodation(s)

1. Employee Relations staff will make the decision to approve or deny an accommodation request.  Such decisions may involve consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs, or the Office of Disability Services.

2. The decision to approve or deny an accommodation request must be made in writing and provided to the applicant or employee within 20 working days after the submission of a request (the 20 working days may be extended for an additional 10 working days for the purposes of securing requested medical documentation). If an accommodation request is denied, the written decision must inform the employee or applicant of the appeal procedures available to that individual as listed in this policy.

3. Where there is more than one effective accommodation, the final decision as to which accommodation will be provided shall be made by Employee Relations staff after consideration of the request of the individual, the documentation provided, the essential functions of the position, and advice from other appropriate personnel.  The University is not required to provide the exact accommodation requested and may provide other alternatives.  For example, an individual may request a specific piece of equipment for which a less expensive, but effective, alternative may be available.  

4. A qualified individual with a disability is not required to accept an accommodation, aid, service, opportunity or benefit which such qualified individual chooses not to accept. However, if such individual rejects a reasonable accommodation, aid, service, opportunity or benefit that is necessary to enable the individual to perform the essential functions of the position held or desired, and cannot as a result of that rejection, perform the essential functions of the position, the individual will not be considered a qualified individual with a disability. 

5. When no reasonable accommodation is available to allow an employee with a disability to remain in his/her current position, the employee is encouraged to contact the Benefits Department to determine eligibility for family medical leave, disability leave, retirement or other benefit options.

6. All material and information collected from an applicant or employee regarding the individual's accommodation request shall be considered confidential information and be kept in a separate file. Upon completion of the decision making process regarding the accommodation request, all material collected will be kept in a separate, locked file by the Employee Relations staff. This information will be confidential with the following exceptions:

a. Supervisors and managers may be informed regarding necessary accommodations or necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee.

b. First aid and safety personnel may be informed, when appropriate, if the disability might require alternative actions in emergency situations.

c. Government officials investigating compliance with non-discrimination laws shall be provided relevant information on request.

7. The Employee Relations staff will periodically monitor the effectiveness of accommodations provided to applicants or employees and may request additional medical information to support continuing and/or modifying the accommodation.  

Appeals

Employees dissatisfied with the decision(s) pertaining to his/her accommodation request may file a grievance in accordance with established grievance procedures for their employment classification of the employment classification.

  1. Subject to the Office of State Human Resources Act (SHRA) employees - Present grievance in accordance with procedures outlined in PIM 35, Grievance and Appeal Procedures for Employees Subject to the State Human Resources Act.
  2. Exempt from the State Human Resources Act (EHRA) Non-Faculty Employees - Present grievance in accordance with procedures outlined in PIM 36, Procedures of the EPA Non-Faculty Grievance Committee.
  3. Faculty - Procedures for Resolving Faculty Grievances Arising from Section 607(3) of The Code of The University of North Carolina.

Applicants may utilize the University’s complaint procedures under the Equal Employment Opportunity and nondiscrimination policies.

Resources

North Carolina State Office of Human Resources Reasonable Accommodation Policy
University Policy 101.5, Equal Employment Opportunity
University Policy 501, Nondiscrimination and Procedures for Addressing Reports of Discrimination
University Policy 501.1 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability Regulation

 

[1] Students who are enrolled at UNC Charlotte but not employed by UNC Charlotte should contact the Office of Disability Services for assistance with requesting an accommodation.

PIM Number: 
50
PIM Category: