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Employee Reasonable Accommodation

Title: Employee Reasonable Accommodation Policy & Procedure
Effective Date: November 21, 2011
Responsible Office: Compliance & Equity, Human Resources
Last Updated: February 5, 2021
Employee Type: All Employees

I. Scope

This policy and procedure applies to William & Mary as a whole university, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.  The policy and procedure apply to all qualified employees and applicants with a disability. See Section III for definitions of terms.

II. Policy Statement

William & Mary is committed to providing individuals with disabilities equal opportunities in all phases of employment.  William & Mary will, in good faith, provide reasonable accommodations for its qualified applicants and employees as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008, (the “ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and their implementing regulations, and consistent with university and Commonwealth anti-discrimination policies. 

Retaliation against an individual with a disability for requesting or using accommodations is prohibited.  The university takes strong action to protect individuals from retaliation and to address any retaliatory behavior that occurs.

III. Definitions 

These definitions summarize terms defined by regulations implementing the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. 

  • Accommodation is a modification, change or adjustment to an individual’s job, work conditions or work environment, or to the job application process for an applicant.  An accommodation can be a change to the way job functions are typically performed, made in order to allow a qualified individual with a disability to perform the job. 
  • An Applicant is an individual pursuing employment with the university by submitting appropriate application materials for a specific, vacant position.
  • A Disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of an individual’s major life activities.1  Major life functions include caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working. The university’s determination of whether an impairment substantially limits a major life activity will be made without regard to the ameliorative effects of mitigating measures such as medication, medical supplies, equipment, appliances, or prosthetics, except for ordinary contact lenses and eyeglasses.
  • An Employee is any university employee including instructional faculty, professional and professional faculty, and operational, classified and hourly employees.
  • An employee or applicant is Qualified if they are able to complete the essential functions of their job with or without reasonable accommodation; an applicant must also satisfy the minimum qualifications for the job for which they are applying in order to be considered qualified.
IV. Reasonable Accommodations
  • Employees and applicants must identify themselves as having a disability and request reasonable accommodation, as described in Section V below. The university has no duty to seek out and determine the need for an accommodation absent a specific request from an employee or applicant.
  • Employees and applicants must be qualified (as defined in Section III) in order to be eligible to receive accommodations. 
  • The university is not required to eliminate an essential job function as an accommodation for a disability. “Essential job function” is a fundamental function of the position or the primary reason the position exists.
  • The university is not required to lower performance standards – whether qualitative or quantitative.  The university may, however, have to provide reasonable accommodation to enable an employee with a disability to meet a performance standard. 
  • Cost or other impact of a requested accommodation may be measured against the accommodation’s efficacy in determining whether it is reasonable. 
  • No change or modification is required if it would cause undue hardship to the university. Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the university’s work.
  • The university will attempt to provide the reasonable accommodation requested, but may choose among reasonable accommodations as long as the chosen accommodation is effective. Through an interactive process, the university may offer alternative suggestions for reasonable accommodations and discuss their effectiveness with the employee and supervisor in removing the workplace barrier.
  • The university has no duty to provide personal items needed to accomplish daily activities both during and outside of working time. This includes items such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, and prosthetic limbs.
  • The university does not provide retroactive accommodations. 
V. Procedure to Request a Reasonable Accommodation

Employees and applicants are responsible for requesting reasonable accommodation, providing adequate documentation of their disability and the need for accommodation.

Modifications to Application Process or Requirements

Applicants may request accommodations in the hiring process or application itself – such as a modification in the manner in which an application is filed.  Applicants are responsible for making specific requests so that the university can provide reasonable accommodations; the university will not ask applicants whether they have a disability or need an accommodation (unless the applicant indicates that he or she needs an accommodation).  Applicants must make these requests in advance; the university will not make retroactive accommodations.  Applicant requests for reasonable accommodation in the hiring process should be  made to University Human Resources (UHR).  Any supervisor or other personnel receiving a request for accommodation must contact UHR at [[accommodate]].

Discussing Disability and Accommodations during the Hiring Process
The university will not ask applicants whether they have a disability or ask any questions regarding a disability disclosed by the applicant, but may ask applicants whether they are able to perform the essential functions of the job being applied for – with or without accommodation.  If an applicant indicates that he or she can perform the essential functions with accommodation, the university may inquire about the accommodation needed.  Accommodation requests will be referred to UHR.

Current Employees

Employees requesting accommodation should be referred to UHR to complete the online Accommodate form. The employee must indicate the specific way in which his or her disability limits his or her ability to perform the essential functions of their job; this shows the university why an accommodation is needed.  The employee must also offer or request a reasonable accommodation. The employee then has his/her healthcare provider complete and return the ADA Accommodation Request Healthcare Provider Certification Form (pdf).   Human Resources may request additional information, including (1) prognosis of a particular, demonstrated or known symptom of the employee’s disability occurring, when relevant to the duties of the job; and (2) a second and even third medical opinion.  Employees with questions or needing assistance completing the online form should contact [[accommodate]].

An ADA specialist from UHR will consult with the employee and the supervisor or department head as needed to determine the essential functions of the job, identify possible accommodations, and assess the reasonableness and efficacy of the accommodation in assisting the employee; and will make an accommodation determination and provide an accommodation approval letter, if appropriate.  An employee disagreeing with a determination may appeal to the ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator; see Section VII below.

After receiving the accommodation approval, an employee should contact UHR if:

  • A supervisor or other university employee is not implementing or recognizing an approved accommodation, or if they have other problems implementing the accommodation; or
  • The approved accommodation, whether because of changes in the employee’s disability, work conditions,  or otherwise, proves to be or becomes ineffective.
VI. Confidentiality

Inquiries about and information regarding requests for accommodation shall, whenever possible, be kept confidential in accordance with applicable university and Commonwealth policies.  Supervisors and managers will be informed as appropriate regarding necessary restrictions on the work or duties of the employee and necessary accommodations.   The ADA specialist in UHR may seek advice/guidance from the ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator, or other appropriate university officials, when considering accommodation requests. 

VII. Appeals/Grievance Procedures

An employee may seek review of a disability decision under this procedure by contacting the ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator at [[equity]].  The Coordinator will review the accommodation determination and make any other investigation needed, including consideration of any records or information provided by the employee.  The Coordinator may require the employee to provide additional information or documentation as necessary.  The Coordinator will report their findings to the Provost.  The Provost will provide a letter of determination to the employee and any other necessary parties.  The Provost’s determination may agree with the original determination or may direct some change to be made.  The review and determination will be made within 30 days of the review being sought, unless the deadline is extended for good cause.

The Provost’s determination is final; there is no further appeal provided under this procedure.  Employees may also have a grievance right under separate state or university policy, however.  Classified and operational employees may contact Human Resources or the state Department of Human Resources for further information.  Professionals and professional faculty should look to the university Grievance Resolution Policy.

The university encourages employees to use these procedures before pursuing remedies outside the university, but employees have the right to file a complaint directly with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

VIII. Approval and Amendment

This policy and procedure were approved by the Provost.  The Provost authorizes the ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator to make minor or technical amendments.

Technical amendments to update office names and officer titles and contact information were made effective January, 2013 and November, 2013.  Technical amendments to update employee roles and contact information were made effective July 10, 2020.  Technical amendments to update retaliation prohibitions were made on February 5, 2021. 

IX. Interpretation and Compliance; ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator

Questions about this procedure or rights and responsibilities concerning discriminatory behavior, including the application of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, may be brought to the university’s ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator or the Deputy Chief Human Resources Officer.  The ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator has the primary responsibility for coordinating the university’s efforts to comply with the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.  These responsibilities include monitoring compliance with related policies and procedures.

  • ADA/Rehabilitation Act Coordinator
    Carla Costello
    108 James Blair Hall
    William & Mary
    P.O. Box 8795
    Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Human Resources
Related Policies

"Physical or mental impairment" for purposes of this policy and procedure is defined by the regulations promulgated by the Department of Justice (28 C.F.R. 35.104) and includes disorders and conditions such as emotional illnesses and learning disabilities as well as diseases and speech and hearing impairments.