Accommodating Faculty and Staff with Disabilities
Much of the information with regard to people with disabilities available on college campuses is directed toward students. Information about accommodating faculty and staff with disabilities is presented below. If you have any questions after reading the information in any section of this guide, contact MTSU's Human Resources Office.
Are You Protected by the ADA as a Faculty or Staff Member?
If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don't.
To be protected under the ADA, you must have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity, such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning, or working.
If you have a disability, you also must be otherwise qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected from job discrimination by the ADA.
This means two things. First, you must satisfy the employer's requirements for the job, such as education, employment experience, skills, or licenses. Second, you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are the fundamental job duties that you must be able to perform on your own or with the help of a reasonable accommodation.
What is Reasonable Accommodation?
Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions or a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. For example, reasonable accommodations may include:
- providing or modifying equipment or devices;
- modifying work schedules;
- adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies;
- providing readers and interpreters; and
- making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.
An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship - that is, that it would require significant difficulty or expense.
Reasonable Accommodation Process
Under the employment provisions (Title I) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336), employers are required to provide "reasonable accommodation" as a means of overcoming unnecessary barriers that prevent or restrict employment opportunities for otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities . The ADA defines a qualified individual with a disability as a person with a disability who "satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position such individual holds or desires and who, with or without reasonable accommodation , can perform the essential functions of such position." The term "reasonable accommodation" means a modification or adjustment to the job, the work environment or the way things usually are done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy an equal employment opportunity. Essential functions are, by definition, those that the individual who holds the job would have to perform, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be considered qualified for the position.
MTSU policy extends reasonable accommodation to the known limitations of qualified persons with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, in order that said individuals may perform the essential functions of a position and/or participate in the employment application process, as long as the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship on the department or unit. In general, it is the responsibility of the applicant or employee with a disability to inform the employer that an accommodation is needed in order for him or her to participate in the application process, perform the essential job functions, or receive benefits and privileges of employment.
All requests for accommodations are evaluated on an individual basis to determine the appropriateness of the request. Moreover, employment opportunities shall not be denied because of the need to make reasonable accommodations to an individual's disability.
To request a reasonable accommodation, staff and faculty members should contact their immediate supervisor and make their request known. If you have any questions at any time during the process, contact MTSU's Human Resources Office.
For more information on this topic please visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's website at http://www.eeoc.gov.