Accommodation Process for Job Applicants
and University Employees
Background and Definitions
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, and public accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), which was enacted in 2009, clarified the mandate to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities. A disability is defined by the ADA and the ADAAA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The impairment may be permanent, chronic or progressive. Conditions that are episodic or in remission may also be considered disabilities under the ADAAA if they are substantially limiting when active.
Reasonable accommodations are provided to qualified individuals with a disability in order for them to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of work. Reasonable accommodations are alterations/changes in the workplace that enable persons with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs. Found in job descriptions, essential functions are duties which are integral to the position. They may be physical or behavioral, require specialized skills or competencies, as well as may take a significant amount of time to accomplish. In addition, there may be significant business consequences if the function is not performed and/or there are a limited number of employees who are able to perform these tasks.
The following information is intended to assist applicants and current employees who are seeking accommodations at The University of Texas at Austin. Prospective and current students of the University should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). More information regarding disability services for students is available at - http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability/.
Seeking an Accommodation
Applicants who need an accommodation in applying for employment with The University of Texas at Austin should contact Human Resource Services at (512) 471-4772, http://www.utexas.edu/hr/prospective/apply/process.html or the Office of Institutional Equity at (512) 471-1849, http://www.utexas.edu/equity or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employees (Faculty and Staff)
Current employees who need an accommodation in order to perform the essential functions of their position should initiate a request through the Office of Institutional Equity, at (512) 471-1849, http://www.utexas.edu/equity or email@example.com. The University has developed this centralized process to maintain consistency and so that employees have the opportunity to discuss their individual situations directly without informing their supervisor. Employees who request accommodations directly from their supervisor will be referred in writing to speak with the Office of Institutional Equity. This referral should also be made when the employee indicates that the reason why he/she is having difficulty in performing his/her job is the result of a physical or mental impairment or harm.
In reviewing accommodation requests, the Office of Institutional Equity will engage in an interactive process with the employee in which the employee’s needs are reviewed in relationship to the essential functions of his/her position. Employees will also be asked to provide the name and contact information of their healthcare provider and to complete a Request for Accommodation Form: UT Employee Request for Accommodation (PDF) or UT Employee Request for Accommodation (MS Word) (download Adobe Reader - download MS Word Viewer - download MS Word Viewer). Any disability documentation that is received will be maintained separately from the personnel file. Employees who are referred to the Office of Institutional Equity, but choose not to initiate the ADA Process nor submit documentation are not recognized by the University as having a disabling condition.
In reviewing documentation and determining reasonable accommodations, the following will be discussed and considered:
- The condition and its duration;
- The limitations caused by the condition and how these limitations impact the employee’s performance on specific requirements of the his/her position; and
- The accommodation(s) the employee and the employee’s healthcare provider believe will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the position.
Although employees may consult with the Office of Institutional Equity without initially informing their supervisor, supervisors are an important part of the process and will be brought into the discussion about the specific impact of the physical or mental impairment on job performance and recommended accommodations. It is important to note that in having this discussion, the Office of Institutional Equity does not share the medical diagnosis or disability documentation, but rather maintains the focus on the limitations of the condition(s) and suggested accommodations.
University ADAAA/Section 504/EIR Coordinator
Other valuable information regarding university-wide disability services and resources along with the role of the University ADAAA/Section 504/EIR Coordinator may be found at http://www.utexas.edu/diversity/diversity/about/adaaa.php.