Recognizing a request for accommodation from employees
From a practical standpoint, supervisors are busy people and wear many hats. However, that does not mean that supervisors are off the hook when it comes to ensuring that Purdue University complies with federal laws, especially the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA). As a supervisor, your ability to recognize an employee's request for accommodation and to begin the interactive process enables the University to comply with the ADA and ADAAA.
So how do you recognize a request for accommodation from an employee? According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an individual may use "plain English" and need not mention the ADA, ADAAA, or use the phrase "reasonable accommodation" when making a request for accommodation.
If an employee mentions that he or she is having a problem at work and the problem is related to a medical condition, the supervisor should conclude that the employee is requesting an accommodation under the ADA and the ADAAA and must refer the employee to one of the following individuals:
- Pat D. Russell, employee relations administrator
Office of Vice President for Human Resources
- Marcy Hintzman, assistant director for compliance and disability services
Office of Institutional Equity
The EEOC offers the following examples:
- Example A: An employee tells her supervisor, "I'm having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I'm undergoing." This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Example B: An employee tells his supervisor, "I need six weeks off to get treatment for a back problem." This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.
- Example C: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that her wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in her office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
- Example D: An employee tells his supervisor that he would like a new chair because his present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, his statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that he is requesting reasonable accommodation. He does not link his need for the new chair with a medical condition.
A request for accommodation is the first step in the interactive process between an employee and Purdue University. The University determines whether an employee is disabled as defined by the ADA and the ADAAA.
If you're not certain the employee has requested an accommodation, contact either Pat or Marcy for assistance.
- Pat D. Russell, SPHR
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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors. It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually. If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us. Thank you.