Reasonable Accommodations Policy & Procedures

I. Policy Statement

It is the policy of The University of Wisconsin-Platteville to provide reasonable accommo- dations for qualified disabled individuals who are employees or applicants for employment. UW-Platteville will adhere to all applicable federal and state laws, regulations and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations as required to afford equal employment opportunity to qualified disabled individuals. Reasonable accommodations will be provided in a timely and cost-effective manner. Employment opportunities shall not be denied because of the need to make reasonable accommodations to an individual's disability. Responsibility for implementation of this policy rests with the Affirmative Action Officer. If you have questions regarding this policy, contact the Affirmative Action Office, Brigham Hall 302, 342-1773.

II. Definitions

Disabled individual. NOTE: Both state and federal law provide definitions of "handicapped" individuals. Since these laws were written, "disabled individuals" or "persons with a disability" has become the preferred term. For the purposes of this policy the term "disability" is used with the understanding that it has the same meaning as "handicap" in state and federal law.

State Fair Employment Act (s. 111.32): "Handicapped individual" means an individual who:

  1. has a physical or mental impairment which makes achievement unusually difficult or limits the capacity to work;
  2. has a record of such an impairment; or
  3. is perceived as having such an impairment.

Federal Rehabilitation Action (section 504): A person is "handicapped" within the meaning of section 504 (85.3) if he or she:

  1. has a mental or physical impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities;
  2. has a record of such impairment; or
  3. is regarded as having such an impairment.

"Major life activities" include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

Qualified disabled individual. A disabled individual whose experience, education, and/or training enable the person, with reasonable accommodation, to perform the essential functions of the job.

Reasonable accommodation. The effort made to make adjustments for the impairment of an employee or applicant by structuring the job or the work environment in a manner that will enable the disabled individual to perform the essential functions of the job. Reasonable accommodation includes, but is not limited to, making facilities accessible, adjusting work schedules, restructuring jobs, providing assisting devices or equipment, providing readers or interpreters and modifying work sites. (See Appendix A for specific impairments and possible accommodations.)

III. Procedures to Request Accommodations

  1. Applicants for Employment
    1. All applicants who are invited for interviews will be informed of the University of Wisconsin-Platteville policy to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities. They will be informed of their right to request accommodations for interviews and the method used to make these requests. The following paragraph will be added if a letter is used as part of the interview scheduling process:
      "It is the policy of UW-Platteville to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified persons with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment. If you need assistance or accommodations to interview because of a disability, please contact me at (phone number of person signing letter). Employment opportunities will not be denied to anyone because of the need to make reasonable accommodations to a person's disability."
      If all interview arrangements are made by telephone, this information will be given as part of the phone conversation.
    2. If applicants are asked questions regarding their ability to perform required job duties, all applicants will be asked the same questions. Before such questions are asked, the applicant will be informed regarding UW-Platteville's willingness to provide reasonable accommodations. Applicants may not be asked whether or not they have a disability.
    3. If an applicant voluntarily indicates the presence of a disability, follow-up questions regarding possible accommodations may be pursued.
    4. Qualified applicants cannot be denied employment solely on the basis of a need to provide a reasonable accommodation. However, if an applicant who receives a tentative job offer cannot be reasonably accommodated, the offer must be rescinded.
  2. Employees
    1. Employees will be told about their right to request reasonable accommodations:
      1. During the orientation process for new employees.
      2. At the time of the biennial survey to allow employees to self-identify as persons with disabilities.
      3. In the Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook, in the Classified Staff Handbook, and in the Student Handbook.
      In addition, if a supervisor becomes aware of a potential need for an accommodation because of a performance issue, the supervisor may meet with the employee to discuss whether or not an accommodation request might be appropriate.
    2. All requests for reasonable accommodations must be in writing using the Disability Accommodation Request Form, which can be obtained from the Affirmative Action Office, Brigham 302.

IV. Decision Making Process

  1. The Process
    1. An employee who wants to request an accommodation fills out the Disability Accom- modation Request Form and gives it to his or her supervisor.
    2. The supervisor reviews the request and discusses it with the Affirmative Action Officer (AAO). If the request is straightforward and does not involve significant issues or expenses, the AAO approves the request. If the request involves issues which are not straightforward, the AAO may do any or all of the following:
      1. Meet with the employee and the supervisor to get more information concerning the request.
      2. Consult with the supervisor and the Human Resources Director to determine the essential functions of the job.
      3. Consult with UWP budget and purchasing specialists.
      4. Consult with the reasonable accommodations specialist in the State Division of Affirmative Action.
      5. With the employee's permission, consult with any medical or rehabilitation spec- ialists who may be working with the individual.
    3. The employee will be informed of the agency decision regarding the accommodation request within 20 working days. If the 20-day limit cannot be met, the AAO will meet with the employee to agree on a reasonable time limit. The employee will be informed in writing of the decision regarding the accommodation, using the Disability Accommodation Request Form.
    4. Distribution of the request form is:
      1. Original - employee
      2. Copy 1 - employee personnel file
      3. Copy 2 - Affirmative Action Office
      4. Copy 3 - Department of Employment Relations Division of Affirmative Action (for classified staff only)
      NOTE: The employee's name, signature, and job title will be deleted from the copy that is sent to the DER Division of Affirmative Action.
  2. Policies and Guidelines
    1. Employees may be asked to provide verification of their disability, in which case the verification must be provided by an appropriate medical or rehabilitation professional. The employee must bear the initial cost of verification, which will usually be covered by health insurance. If UWP requests additional verification of the disability, or the disability's impact on job requirements, the University will bear the cost. Factors to be considered when deciding whether or not to request initial or further verification include:
      1. Is the employee known to have a disability?
      2. Does the applicant or employee have an observable disability?
      3. Does the request expand on an existing accommodation or previously approved accommodation for which a verification was required?
      4. Does the request for accommodation appear appropriate?

    2. Factors which should be considered when determining reasonableness include:
      1. Are the job functions for which the accommodation is required essential to the overall performance of the job?
      2. Is the applicant or employee otherwise qualified to perform the essential job functions?
      3. Does the accommodation accomplish the desired result, i.e., allowing the individual to effectively perform the functions of the job?
      4. Is the cost of the accommodation feasible within the budget of the University? If not, can approval be obtained from the Department of Administration (DOA) to use funds which are statutorily reserved for reasonable accommodations?
      5. Are there other more cost-effective options which will allow the individual to perform the essential functions of the job?
    3. As a general rule, UWP will purchase equipment only if it is determined that the use of the equipment is necessary in the transaction of the official business of the agency. The equipment may not be of a personal nature (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aids, etc.) which the employee can reasonably be expected to provide. In determining whether the purchase of a device should be authorized, consideration will be given to how well the employee could perform the job without the equipment and whether the principal benefit will be better job performance by the employee.

      NOTE: Devices may also be available from other sources. The State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation can provide funds or equipment in some instances. Community organizations and service clubs also sponsor the purchase of equipment, as do some foundations and insurance companies working with individuals disabled as a result of an on-the-job injury or personal injury.
    4. The employee or applicant will always be the primary person consulted with when determining the most appropriate accommodation. Employees will be given an opportunity to provide or arrange for their own accommodations; for example, using volunteer drivers or readers, or providing their own adaptive equipment. However, the procedures in these policies must be followed (written request, approval, etc.), even if employees provide or arrange their own accommodations. This gives documentation of accommodations and ensures that the accommodations are not disruptive to the workplace.
    5. If an employee of UWP acquires a disability and the University is not able to make reasonable accommodations which will allow the individual to continue his or her current position, the University will explore possibilities for placement in other positions at UWP. The movement to another position may be a transfer, a demotion, or change to part-time employment, and must be made in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements, Chapter 230 of state statutes, and Administrative Rules for Chapter 230.

      While no legal responsibility exists for alternative placement outside UWP, classified employees will be counseled regarding their rights to other positions in state employment. The Human Resources Director and Affirmative Action Officer are resources for employees as they seek other opportunities.

      NOTE: Under the Federal Rehabilitation Act, accommodation is only required to permit an individual to perform his or her particular job. Recent court decisions indicate that under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act there is some responsibility to explore transfer possibilities. The extent of the responsibility has yet to be clearly developed by the courts, but the responsibility to look for alternative positions is clear in s. 230.37(2), Stats.:
      "When an employee becomes physically or mentally incapable of or unfit for the efficient and effective performance of the duties of his position by reason of infirmities due to age, disabilities, or otherwise, the appointing authority shall either transfer the employee to a position which requires less arduous duties, if necessary demote the employee, place the employee on a part-time basis and at a part-time rate of pay or, as a last resort, dismiss the employee from service. The appointing authority may require the employee to submit a medical or physical examination to determine fitness to continue in service...."
    6. After accommodations are provided, the employee and his/her supervisor need to evaluate the effectiveness of the accommodation. The Affirmative Action Officer should also be involved in this process. If modifications to the accommodations are needed, they should be requested using the procedures outlined in this policy.
    7. A list of resources for technical assistance in identifying the most appropriate accommodations is available from the Affirmative Action Office.

V. The Appeal Process

  1. If an employee disagrees with a decision regarding an accommodation request, s/he has a right to appeal the decision using the following procedure. An Applicant does not have access to this procedure, although s/he has the option to follow the usual discrimination complaint procedure (State Personnel Commission, EEOC, etc.)
  2. When an accommodation request is denied, an employee may, within 30 calendar days, appeal the decision to the Affirmative Action Officer. The appeal must be in writing, stating the reason for the disagreement. The Affirmative Action Officer will reevaluate the decision, considering any additional information from medical or vocational rehabilitation experts). The Affirmative Action Officer may consult with staff from outside agencies (e.g., DER/DAA, DHSS/DVR, or DOA 504 Coordinator) in the appeal process--taking care to provide confidentiality for the employee. The Affirmative Action Officer then discusses all information regarding the appeal with the Chancellor. The Chancellor makes the final decision regarding the appeal. The employee receives in writing the final decision regarding the appeal within 30 calendar days after the appeal was filed.

Appendix A
Specific Impairments and Possible Accommodations

Impairment Possible Accommodations

Physical
People with physical disabilities will generally have physical mobility or agility problems. Accommodations could extend from simple rearrangements of work area to some control of environmental conditions.

Amputation
Environmental control of heat, cold, and humidity may be necessary. Rearrangement of work area to compensate for missing upper limb. Modification of work site to allow for crutches or cane or for persons who, because of lower limb amputation, may not have standing or walking stability of an individual with two legs.

Arthritis/Rheumatism
Environmental control of heat, cold, and humidity may be necessary, depending upon the severity and how active the condition is. Job modifications may include electric lift (if heavy carrying/lifting is part of the job) and/or enlarged handles on tools to compensate for grip weakness.

Muscular Dystrophy
Job modifications similar to above. Extent of modifications will be dependent upon the severity of the disease process. In addition, the job problems will be caused by muscle weakness rather than joint problems.

Multiple Sclerosis
Job modifications will depend upon how active the MS is. Modifying the work station by raising the desk for a person in a wheelchair or rearranging of the work area to compensate for general weakness--limited range of motion occasionally or problems with speech, etc.--may be necessary.

Paraplegia/Quadriplegia
Job modifications will depend upon the extent of the paralysis. They may include modifying work stations for wheelchairs, providing electrical devices to aid work--such as electric typewriter, dictaphone, speaker phone, computer, writing aids, etc.

Polio
Job modifications would be similar to other disorders which reduce strength and muscle nerve enervation. Other modifications may include modifying work area for wheelchairs and/or crutches.

Sensorial Disabilities

Visual
Job modification would depend upon residual vision and field discrimination and Impairment the type of job the individual is doing. Reasonable accommodations may include a reader for interview and job performance. If the job calls for extensive deter-mination modifications, electronic devices to turn visual material into tactile material may be necessary. Employee orientation to physical surroundings is a most important accommodation.

Hearing
Modification may be minimal, e.g., arranging meetings so that the employee is Impairment facing those who are talking. Environmental control of noise may be necessary. Reasonable accommodation may include a sign language interpreter during the job interview situation.

Mental Disabilities - Organic

Mental
Accommodations may include modification of job training time or initial Retardation additional supervisory attention. Modifications should be minimal.

Stroke/Brain
Accommodations would depend upon the severity and focal point of the disorder. Tumor Modifications could be necessary to compensate for extreme physical/speech/ visual deficits. Otherwise accommodations would be minimal.

Mental Disabilities - Behavioral

Alcoholism/Drug Dependency/Psychosis/Emotional Disorders
Accommodations would include supportive counseling and long-term commitment to such services.

Other Disabilities

The following handicaps may require accommodations for both physical and psychological aspects of the disabling condition.

Asthma/Cardiovascular & Chronic Digestive Disorders/Epilepsy/Diabetes/Tuberculosis
Accommodation/modifications may be environmental (i.e., stress situations, dust control), physical (i.e., problems such as a place to lie down), or supportive services (i.e., counseling) may also be necessary.