Employee Disability Accommodation Policy and Procedures

Requesting workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities

This guidance memo outlines the Missouri State University policies and procedures for employee requests for disability-related accommodations.

1. Policy

(see section 2.5 in the Missouri State University Employee Handbook)

Missouri State University is committed to providing an accessible and supportive environment for employees with disabilities. Equal access for qualified individuals with a disability is an obligation of the University under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Missouri State University does not discriminate on the basis of disability against qualified individuals with a disability in any program, service or activity offered by the University. The University is committed to ensuring that no qualified individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids or other appropriate services; however, accommodations cannot result in an undue burden to the University or fundamentally alter the essential functions of the job. However, if reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship or burden because of costs, the individual with a disability shall be given the option of providing the accommodations themselves or paying for the portion of the cost that poses the undue hardship or burden.

2. Implementation and responsibility

  1. Employees — are responsible for initiating requests for any desired disability related workplace accommodations. Requests by non-faculty employees should be made to supervisors or to the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance; faculty employees should contact their department head or the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance.
  2. Supervisors/Department Heads/Directors — have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodation as a matter of nondiscrimination. As a matter of affirmative action, supervisors/department heads/directors also have an obligation to ask if an accommodation is needed if an individual with a disability is having performance problems likely related to the disability. Supervisors/Department Heads/Directors are responsible for receiving requests for workplace accommodations, informing employees of the process and referring requests to the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance. Supervisors are also responsible for initiating a discussion concerning accommodations when they have reason to believe that an employee’s disability precludes the employee from initiating a request. Supervisors should inform the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance of all requests and accommodations.
  3. Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance — is responsible for evaluating the request, determining what type of documentation is necessary, and determining if the requested accommodation is appropriate and effective. The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance also provides information relating to the employment provisions of the ADA and employer obligations. The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance may also be contacted for information regarding campus accessibility and resources for obtaining technical and assistive equipment. One may reach the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance at Park Central Office Building Suite 111, 417-836-4252 (voice), 417-836-3257 (TTY) or at equity@missouristate.edu.

3. Process - Recommended steps

  1. Step One – Request: The employee is responsible for requesting a workplace accommodation for his or her disability. However, the Supervisor/Department Heads/Directors have an obligation to ask if an accommodation is needed if an individual with a disability is having performance problems likely related to the disability. The request shall be made to either the employee’s supervisor or to the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance at Park Central Office Building Suite 111, 417-836-4252 (voice), 417-836-3257 (TTY) or at equity@missouristate.edu. If the reasonable accommodations would cause undue hardship or burden because of costs on the university, the individual with the disability shall be given the option of providing the accommodations themselves or paying for the portion of the cost that poses the undue hardship or burden.

    NOTE:  Employees of the West Plains campus should contact the Affirmative Action Liaison, University/Community Programs Office, West Plains Civic Center at 417-255-7966. The Affirmative Action Liaison will act on behalf of the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance throughout the accommodation process for employee requests from the West Plains campus.

    Requests should be made in writing on the Accommodation Request Form and should include the following information:
    1. Name, telephone number and address of employee
    2. Department
    3. Supervisor
    4. Physical or mental condition and its duration
    5. Nature of request
    6. Brief explanation of how the requested accommodation will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his/her job.
  2. Step Two – Discussion: When received, the supervisor should forward the request for accommodation to the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance. A representative from the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance will meet with the employee to acknowledge the request and explain the process. A representative from the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance will also meet with the employee and supervisor as necessary to discuss the request and accommodation alternatives.
  3. Step Three – Documenting the Disability: The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance will determine what type of documentation is necessary to verify the disability. This may vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability and the accommodation requested. It is the responsibility of the employee to provide the requested documentation regarding his or her disability. In the event the University determines it is appropriate to obtain a second professional opinion concerning the nature or impact of a physical or mental disability, the University will bear the cost of obtaining the second opinion. The request for an accommodation will be evaluated once all documentation has been submitted by the employee.
  4. Step Four – Evaluation: Appropriate accommodations are determined following an individualized assessment of each request. The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance will consider the needs and requests for reasonable accommodation to determine whether the necessary equipment or services exist already in a different department or unit before investing in new equipment or additional services. Among the factors considered in determining reasonable accommodations for employees are:
    1. What is the nature of the employee’s physical or mental condition and how does it affect his/her needs in the workplace setting?
    2. Does the employee’s physical or mental condition limit one or more major life activities?
    3. Will the requested accommodation allow the employee to perform the essential job functions effectively?
    4. Will the requested accommodation alter or remove an essential function of the job?
    5. What impact will the requested accommodation or modification have on the department or unit?

    The University is not required to provide an accommodation that will have the effect of eliminating an essential function of the job in question nor to provide an accommodation or service which is personal in nature, such as a hearing aid or wheelchair. However, if a reasonable accommodation would constitute an undue hardship because of its costs, the individual with a disability must be given the option of providing the accommodation themselves or paying the portion of the cost that constitutes undue hardship. Furthermore, the University is not required to lower performance, production or conduct standards nor to alter attendance requirements expected of all employees.
  5. Step Five – Notification: The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance will provide the employee with written notification of the determination within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the completed request (including the requested documentation). If the determination includes an accommodation, the notice will also include the expected implementation date. If a situation should arise whereby the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance needs additional time to assess a request or to provide an accommodation, the employee will be provided with written notification of the status of the request and the proposed date of determination.

4. Funding

If the accommodation is deemed appropriate and reasonable, then the department bears the initial responsibility for funding the accommodation. If the cost is beyond the department’s means, then the supervisor/department head/director should discuss funding the accommodation with the next level in the department’s/office’s reporting line (i.e., dean, head of cost center, etc). If funding issues remain after discussion at the level of dean, head of cost center, etc., then the matter should be addressed with the provost or appropriate vice president. If a reasonable accommodation would constitute an undue hardship because of its costs, the individual with a disability must be given the option of providing the accommodation themselves or paying the portion of the cost that constitutes undue hardship.

5. Resolving disagreements

  1. Informal Process - In the event an employee disagrees with the determination and/or proposed accommodation, he or she may meet with the Equal Opportunity Officer in the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance, Park Central Office Building Suite 111, 417-836-4252 (voice), 417-836-3257 (TTY) or at equity@missouristate.edu
  2. Formal Process - The applicable complaint procedure depends on the circumstances and the status of the person bringing the complaint. The Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance Complaint Procedures are available online.

6. Confidentiality and records

All University employees have a legal obligation to maintain confidentiality regarding a staff or faculty member’s disability-related information. To that end, supervisors and representatives from the Office for Institutional Equity and Compliance shall provide information to staff and faculty only when necessary to facilitate accommodations.