Employees and Applicants with Disabilities

William & Mary is dedicated to providing a welcoming, supportive community for employees with disabilities, and encourages individuals with disabilities to apply for jobs at the university.  

This guidance is aimed at ensuring

During the hiring (search and selection) process
  • No one can ask an applicant if he or she has a disability, under any circumstances. 

  • If an applicant requests an accommodation in the application process -- for example, asks to be interviewed in a wheelchair accessible location -- William & Mary must make reasonable accommodations to permit the applicant to participate in the process.  The Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity can help search committees or hiring officials handle requests for accommodation.  

  • If the hiring manager or search committee is aware that an applicant has a disability, either because the applicant disclosed it or it is an obvious disability, and there is a concern that the disability may limit or prevent the applicant in performing the job duties, keep the applicant in the applicant pool and consider him or her as all other applicants.  Contact the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity for assistance.  The Office, at the appropriate stage of the hiring process, can work with the applicant to determine whether he or she can do the job with (or without) an accommodation.  
    • The applicant can be asked whether he or she can do the job, with (or without) reasonable accommodation.  
    • If an applicant indicates that he or she would require accommodation to do the job, William & Mary can ask what accommodation would be needed, and understand how the individual would be able to do the work with this accommodation. 
  • Under no conditions should an applicant be asked for medical records or medical information, except by the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity. 

  • An applicant cannot be refused a job because he or she has a disability, unless the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity determines:
    • The disability is such that he or she will not be able to perform the essential functions of the job, even with accommodations. 
    • The disability would result in a significant risk of substantial harm to the applicant or others, if the applicant were hired.   
During the employment relationship – working with current employees
  • W&M makes modifications and adjustments to jobs and job conditions to help employees with disabilities perform the job duties.  These modifications and adjustments are usually called “reasonable accommodations”.    

  • We also make accommodations to help a person with a disability enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.   

  • The appropriate accommodation is determined on a case-by-case basis, in an interactive process between the employee and W&M.  An accommodation only works if it allows the employee to perform the essential functions of a job.  Examples of accommodations include
    • Providing technical aids and devices, such as special computer keyboards or telephones.  In many cases, equipment or devices are considered personal need items, such as wheelchair or walker, and William & Mary is not required to provide these; however, if the need for the equipment is a work, not personal need, then it may be William & Mary’s responsibility. 
    • Modifying the workplace, such as through retrofitted entryways or special office furniture.  William & Mary generally is not required to modify existing worksites to make them accessible until a particular employee needs an accommodation. 
    • Modifying duties or hours of work, such as permitting telework, an alternate work schedule to allow for medical appointments, shifting minor duties to other employees, or allowing more frequent rest breaks.
    • Allowing service animals.   
  • Only the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity can authorize an accommodation.  Supervisors may not come up with accommodations on their own.

  • Employees with disabilities are subject to the same performance and conduct expectation as all other employees.  But sometimes expectations as to how an employee performs his job – not how well, but the manner in which he or she gets the work done – will change in the accommodation process. 

  • If an employee reveals a disability after performance or conduct problems arise, W&M will work with the employee through the accommodation process, but we are not required to rescind or change past performance evaluations or disciplinary measures.  

Additional questions?  Review the collected resources for discrimination-related questions and services.