Requesting a Job Accommodation
Cal Poly is actively engaged in increasing, recognizing and celebrating our diversity and building inclusive excellence. We are committed to providing an inclusive learning and working environment where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect. In alignment with these values, and in compliance with applicable laws and policies, qualified individuals with a disability shall be provided a reasonable accommodation in order to perform the essential functions of their job.
What is Reasonable Accommodation?
Reasonable Accommodation is any adjustment to a work environment or job that allows a qualified employee (i.e., staff, faculty, student employee) to perform the essential functions of the job in question. Employers must offer reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities (for example, providing a TDD telephone to an employee with a hearing impairment) as long as those accommodations do not create an undue burden for the employer.
What is an Essential Function?
Essential function means the fundamental job duties of the employment position. 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.
What is a Functional Limitation?
A functional limitation is the inability to perform an action or a set of actions because of a physical or mental restriction. Determining whether a limitation in performing essential functions exists due to a physical or mental disability is the first step in establishing whether an individual is entitled to a reasonable accommodation.
How is Disability defined?
An individual is considered to be disabled if that individual:
- Has a permanent physical or mental impairment that limits the performance of one or more major life activities, including major bodily functions
- Has a record of such an impairment
- Is regarded as having such impairment
What is a Major Life Activity?
Major life activities are functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. Major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.
How does requesting a Reasonable Accommodation work?
A request for reasonable accommodation is a statement that an employee needs a work-related adjustment or change for a reason related to a mental or physical disability. A request may be made in writing or orally by the employee, or by someone on their behalf, to be documented by Human Resources.
All requests must be accompanied by current, relevant verification from the employee’s health care provider indicating the nature and extent of the limitation(s) stating:
- The employee has a disability (not to include the diagnosis);
- A description of how the employee’s limitations impair the ability to perform the duties of the job and whether these limitations are temporary or permanent. If temporary, when they are expected to end; and
- Recommendation of any specific reasonable accommodation(s) to be considered.
If the initial information provided by the health professional or volunteered by the requestor is insufficient to enable Human Resources to determine whether the individual has a “disability” and/or that an accommodation is needed, Human Resources will explain what additional information is needed. If necessary, the individual should then ask their health care provider or other appropriate professional to provide the missing information. Human Resources may also give the individual a list of questions to give to the health care provider or other appropriate professional to answer. If sufficient medical information is not provided by the individual after several attempts, Human Resources may ask the individual requesting accommodation to sign a limited release permitting Human Resources to contact the provider for additional information.
An employee may identify the specific accommodation(s) they would like to be considered. In general, a reasonable accommodation is one that is rationally related to the limitation and, thus, effectively enables an employee to perform the essential functions of the job. Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
- Modified equipment
- Assistive devices
- Modification of existing facilities
- Restructuring the job
- A modified work schedule
- Leave of absence
The interactive process is used to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodation will be made.
What is the Interactive Process?
The interactive process is a timely, good faith communication process between the employer and employee to identify if the employee needs a reasonable accommodation to allow the employee to perform the job effectively. Both the employer and the employee participate in the interactive process. It is an ongoing dialogue between the employee and the employer about possible options for reasonably accommodating the employee's limitations due to the disability.
How does the Interactive Process work?
If the need for possible accommodation arises, the employee must contact Human Resources to initiate the process and provide the information described above. Human Resources will provide guidance on engaging in the interactive process.
Participants in the interactive process may include the employee, the supervisor, a member of Human Resources staff and other appropriate employer representatives (e.g., directors, deans, or a representative from Academic Personnel).
During the interactive process, the employer considers information such as:
- The essential functions of the job
- The employee's functional limitations due to the disability
- The reasonableness and implementation of possible accommodations
This information is used by the employer to determine what, if any, accommodation will be made.
Please note that current and relevant but not necessarily “recent “medical documentation is required, unless the disability or need for accommodation is obvious. Medical information and/or information regarding disability shall be maintained by Human Resources in a confidential file separate from the employee’s regular personnel file. Accommodations not obtained through this process (i.e., identifying, providing appropriate medical documentation and requesting an accommodation) are not formal disability accommodations.
How do I learn more or begin the process?
Employees and/or supervisors please contact Human Resources for assistance and guidance.
Kelly Pace Mode
Director, Benefits & Employee Services
Disability Programs Analyst-Specialist
- OFFICE OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITY – Campus 504/ADA Coordinator
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN)