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Policy VI-1.00

Workplace Reasonable Accommodations

Policy Owner Version No. Effective Date Review Cycle Last Reviewed
VP, Chief Diversity Officer, and Ombudsman  1 May 1, 2022 Every 5 years N/A

I. POLICY STATEMENT

The University of Maryland Global Campus Global Campus (UMGC) is committed to creating and maintaining a welcoming and inclusive educational and working environment for people of all abilities. UMGC is committed to the principle that no qualified individual with a disability shall, based on disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of the University, or be subjected to discrimination. UMGC provides reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with a disability. Reasonable accommodations shall be made in a timely manner and on an individualized and flexible basis. Discrimination against individuals on the grounds of disability is prohibited. The University also strictly prohibits retaliation against persons arising in connection with the assertion of rights under this Policy.

II.  SCOPE AND APPLICABILITY

A.  Scope

The purpose of this policy is to provide all members of the University community with a detailed guide on the reasonable accommodation process. There are important steps that must be taken to ensure reasonable accommodations are documented (within the accommodation tracking system), communicated, and provided in a timely fashion. These steps ensure equal opportunity for applicants, candidates, and employees with disabilities as well as ensure the University meets its legal obligations.

B.  Applicability

This Policy applies to all members of the University community, including, staff, faculty members, and third-party individuals. It is the responsibility of individual employees and/or third parties to identify themselves as persons with a disability when requesting an accommodation. It is also the responsibility of the individual with the disability to provide supporting documentation of their disability from a relevant credentialed professional that demonstrates how the disability affects their ability to perform the essential functions of their job or to participate in and benefit from UMGC programs, services, and/or activities. All supporting disability documentation, as defined in Section III of this policy, will be kept confidential and separate from personnel records.

Employees, Faculty members, Applicants, and Candidates with disabilities have the same obligation as all members of the community to meet and maintain UMGC’s job performance, technical standards, and codes of conduct.

The ADA Compliance Officer is responsible for university wide compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and all other relevant state and Federal laws.

III. DEFINITIONS

“Disability” (with respect to an individual) is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the person’s major life activities, taking into consideration any mitigating measures; a history of having such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.

“Disability supporting documentation” is medical, psychological, educational, or other relevant documentation provided by a credentialed third party that establishes a person has a disability as defined above and demonstrates how the disability affects the person’s ability to perform the essential functions of their job or to participate in services, or activities of the University.

“Discrimination” is unequal treatment based on a disability that interferes with an individual’s ability to participate in UMGC’s programs, services, or activities, or with an individual’s ability to perform their job responsibilities.

“Essential Job Functions” is the fundamental, basic job duties performed in a position. A function may be essential because: the position exists to perform that function; there are a limited number of employees available who could perform that function; and/or the function is highly specialized, and the incumbent is hired for special expertise or ability to perform it.

“Interactive Process” is ongoing communication between the employee and employer, or other UMGC personnel, for the express purpose of providing a reasonable accommodation.

“Qualified Employee” is an employee with a disability who meets the legitimate skills, experience, education, or other requirements of a job and who can perform the essential job functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

“Reasonable accommodations for Staff, Faculty members, Job Applicants, and Job Candidates” are any changes to a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that allow an individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform job functions, or enjoy equal access to benefits available to other individuals in the workplace. Modifications must address the disability and should not fundamentally alter the employee’s essential job functions.

“Retaliation” is action taken against an individual solely because of seeking an accommodation related to disability, filing a complaint of discrimination based on disability, or participating in an investigation or proceeding concerning allegations of discrimination based on disability.

IV. WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATION REQUEST PROCEDURES

The Workplace Reasonable Accommodation Policy requires the University and its agents to engage in an interactive dialogue with the employee to implement reasonable accommodations.

It is the responsibility of Employee Accommodations, a unit in the Office of Diversity and Equity to determine reasonable accommodations for employees, faculty members, applicants, candidates. Employee Accommodations is responsible for documenting approved accommodations in an Accommodation Plan. A record of the Accommodation Plan shall be retained in the employee’s personnel file and in Employee Accommodations.  All supporting disability documentation shall be kept confidential and maintained by Employee Accommodations separately from the employee’s personnel records.

V.  ACCOMMODATION REQUEST PROCEDURES

The process begins when the University becomes aware that an employee, faculty member, applicant candidate may need an adjustment or change concerning some aspect of the application process, the job, or a benefit of employment for a reason related to a disability or chronic medical condition. An applicant, candidate or employee may request a reasonable accommodation at any time, orally or in writing.

Once the University has received notice of a need for accommodation, Employee Accommodations will be notified.  Employee Accommodations will follow-up with the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate to discuss the Accommodation process and it will provide the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate with a Workplace Accommodation Request form and Medical Inquiry form for a medical provider or relevant credentialed professional to complete. 

A.  The applicant, candidate or employee must describe on the Workplace Accommodation Request form the specific accommodation request and return it to Employee Accommodations.

B.  The Medical Inquiry form or other medical documentation in support of the Accommodation Request should be submitted to Employee Accommodations within 10 business days.

1. Notification to Employee Accommodations explaining why supporting medical documentation cannot be submitted within the requisite time frame will be reviewed on an individual basis.

C. Employee Accommodations will notify the applicant, candidate, or employee within 5 business days whether the provided medical documentation is sufficient or if there is a need for additional documentation.

D. If additional documentation is needed, the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate shall have 10 business days to submit the additional documentation.

E. Employee Accommodations shall review the medical documentation within 5 business days to determine its sufficiency.

1. If the additional documentation is still insufficient, the accommodations request will be closed. In the event a request is closed, Employee Accommodations shall instruct the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate on what they need to submit for a request that can be re-opened.

F. In situations where a disability and associated need for an accommodation are evident, a third party (recruiter, hiring manager, manager, etc.) may initiate the reasonable accommodation process and begin the interactive discussion with the person with a disability. 

1. Employee Accommodations must be notified of any such discussions prior to the determination of eligibility for accommodations.

2. Employee Accommodations will confirm any such request with the applicant, candidate, or employee, unless medical circumstances prevent confirmation.  In such cases, supporting documentation from a medical provider may be required.

VI. ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION

A. Once the completed Workplace Accommodation Request form and supporting medical documentation have been received, Employee Accommodations will have 5 business days to review the provided information.

B. Employee Accommodations will meet with the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate to determine if the individual is a qualified individual with a disability and therefore eligible for accommodations.

C. Employee Accommodations will provide applicant, candidate, or employee with written notification if it is determined that the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate is not a qualified individual with a disability.  Otherwise, Employee Accommodations will proceed with the interactive process to develop a reasonable accommodation.

VII.  ACCOMMODATION DETERMINATION

A. Upon determining that the applicant, candidate, or employee is a qualified individual with a disability, within 10 business days, Employee Accommodations in consultation with any relevant supervisor/unit head or recruiter, as needed, will review the employee’s accommodation request in relation to their position, and facilitate an interactive dialogue with the employee, faculty member applicant, candidate, employee, supervisor, and/or unit head, to determine a reasonable accommodation.

B. During the interactive process, the employee, faculty member, applicant or candidate requesting the accommodation, the recruiter or employee’s manager, and Employee Accommodations will discuss the following:

1. the nature of the job-related challenge that is generating the request confirming that a disability is prompting the need for an accommodation.

2. accommodation options that may be effective in meeting an individual’s needs to successfully meet the essential requirements of the job.

C. All accommodation requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. A robust interactive process frequently may require additional input from other members of the employee’s management team, Employee Relations, Recruiter, and/or the employee’s medical provider. Other departments, a third-party vendor, or outside disability-related organizations, may be consulted depending on the type of request sought.

VIII. IMPLEMENTATION

A. Employee Accommodations will develop an Accommodation Plan in consultation with the applicant, candidate, or employee and their manager, or recruiter if applicable. Once the Accommodation Plan is approved, a copy will be shared with the employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate, their manager, and Employee Relations.

1. It is the responsibility of the manager, unit head, or recruiter to work in coordination with the employee to ensure implementation of the Accommodation Plan.

B. The University will use good faith efforts to implement the reasonable accommodation provisions described in the Accommodation Plan within 24 hours of its dissemination unless there are technical, physical, or unforeseen circumstances that delay implementation.  In the event of a delay, Employee Accommodations will notify all relevant parties of the reason for the delay and the anticipated timeframe the Accommodation Plan will be implemented.

1.  It is the responsibility of Employee Accommodations to work with the applicant, candidate or employee, their manager or recruiter manager to facilitate an effective and timely implementation of the Accommodation Plan.

C.  If an applicant, candidate, or employee believes that their reasonable accommodations are not being implemented in an effective and timely manner, they should contact the ADA Compliance Officer immediately via email at adacompliance@UMGC.edu

1.  If efforts by ADA Compliance Officer to resolve implementation concerns are unsuccessful, the ADA Compliance Officer shall seek review and resolution by the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer or designee.

IX.  EXTENSION OF THE TIMEFRAME FOR PROVIDING AN ACCOMMODATION

A.  An extension of the time frame for providing an accommodation will be considered in extraordinary circumstances that could not reasonably have been anticipated or avoided in advance of the request for accommodation, or that are beyond the University’s ability to control.

1.  When extenuating circumstances are present, the time for processing a request for reasonable accommodation and providing the accommodation will be extended as reasonably necessary. In such circumstances the requestor, manager and other need to know individuals will be informed as to the reason for the delay and anticipated delivery of solution.

X.  TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATIONS

A.  Many accommodations are implemented long-term, while some accommodations last for only a temporary period. Every situation is unique and requires case-by-case analysis of the individual’s limitations, restrictions, specific accommodation needs, and the impact the accommodation will have on job performance and business operations.  Implementing a temporary change offers the opportunity to evaluate an accommodation for effectiveness before making the decision to implement the change long-term and demonstrates a good faith effort to meet the needs of the employee, faculty member, applicant, candidate

1.  Situations that can warrant provision of a temporary accommodation may include, but are not limited to:

a)  when time is needed to research a permanent accommodation solution, to acquire equipment, arrange a service, or identify an alternative vacancy;

b)  when it is necessary to test an accommodation to determine if it is effective;

c)  when the medical impairment is temporary but sufficiently severe enough to entitle the employee to an accommodation;

d)  when it is necessary to avoid temporary adverse conditions in the work environment; or

e)  when an accommodation can currently be provided but may eventually pose an undue hardship if provided long-term.

XI. MONITORING

A. In consultation with the employee and their manager, Employee Accommodations will monitor the effectiveness of the accommodation. This monitoring shall occur outside of the University performance review process. While employees with disabilities must be able to perform essential functions of their job with or without accommodation, it is also UMGC’s responsibility to ensure an accommodation is effective for an employee, faculty member, applicant, or candidate.

B.  If an applicant, candidate, employee, or the employee’s manager believe that an accommodation is no longer effective, they must contact Employee Accommodations to initiate a review of the Accommodation Plan and engage in another interactive dialogue.

XII. ACCOMMODATION REQUEST DENIAL

A.  If UMGC is unable to approve a request for accommodation, Employee Accommodations will provide written notice to the requesting applicant, candidate, or employee explaining the reason for the requested accommodation was not approved.

XIII.  APPEAL PROCESS

A. Within 10 days of receiving written notice of UMGC’s inability to approve a request for accommodation, an applicant, candidate, or employee may appeal in writing, to:

Office of the Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Officer
Department of Budget and Management
Room 607
301 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

B. After receiving the appeal, the Statewide Equal Employment Opportunity Officer shall review the decision denying the requested accommodation and conduct any necessary investigation.

1. The Office of the Statewide Equal Opportunity Coordinator shall issue a final written decision within 30 days.

XIV.  ACCOMMODATION REQUEST PROCEDURES FOR THIRD PARTIES

A.  Third-party individuals (visitors, volunteers, vendors, and contractors) with a disability, who are visiting the University, and seek an accommodation to facilitate their visit or access to University programs, must contact Employee Accommodations.

B. Timeliness. Third parties are expected to provide reasonable notice for the University to facilitate the provision of a requested accommodation in a timely manner.

C. Documentation. Depending on the nature of the disability and accommodation request, third parties may be subject to the same supporting documentation requirements as applicants, candidates, and employees.

D.   Accommodation Implementation. It is the responsibility of the host department or unit to implement reasonable accommodations, as communicated by Employee Accommodations, to third parties.

XV.  COMPLAINT PROCEDURES

A.  Individual staff, faculty member, or visiting third parties who believe that they have been discriminated against or harassed based on disability or retaliated against in violation of this UMGC Policy 040.30: Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity may file an internal complaint with Fair Practices, a unit in the Office of Diversity and Equity. All such complaints will be reviewed in accordance UMGC Policy 040.30.

1.  Time Limits. Complaints of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in violation of UMGC Policy 040.30 must be made within thirty (30) calendar days following an incident of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Fair Practices may waive the time limit upon a showing of good cause.

UMGC Fair Practices Unit

3501 University Boulevard East
Administration Building
Adelphi, MD 20783
Phone: 800-888-8682 ext. 17955
Email: fairpracices@umgc.edu

B.  External Government Agencies That Address Complaints of Disability discrimination/harassment

1.  In addition to filing a complaint under this Policy and Procedures, members of the UMGC Community may contact external agencies. A person wishing to file a complaint with an external agency should contact the appropriate agency promptly to verify the time limits and deadlines for filing complaints.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
City Crescent Building
10 S. Howard Street, Third Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: 1-800-669-4000
Fax: 410-962-4270

Maryland Commission on Civil Rights (MCCR)
William Donald Schaefer Tower
6 Saint Paul Street, Ninth Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202-1631
Phone: 410-767-8600
Fax: 410-333-1841
TTY: 410-333-1737