Workplace Accommodation

CWU is committed to providing reasonable workplace accommodations to individuals with disabilities. If you are an individual seeking workplace accommodation, please review this website and contact Jennifer Mertel in Human Resources by email or at (509) 963-1202 for more information.

Quick Links:

Accommodation Policy
Accommodation Procedure
Accommodation Request
Health Care Provider Statement (PDF)

  • Eligibility

    To be considered for an accommodation you must have an impairment substantially limiting a major life activity and impacting your ability to perform the essential functions of your job. You must be qualified for the job for which you are seeking accommodation and be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without an accommodation.

    Examples of major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working.

    If you believe you have a disability and need accommodation, submit the online Accommodation Request. Contact HR with questions.

  • Process Overview

    If you believe you have a disability and need accommodation, submit the Accommodation Request and provide the Health Care Provider Statement (PDF). All medical information is stored confidentially and separately from personnel files.

    The interactive process requires collaboration to discuss strategies and options to accommodate the employee’s disability. The employee, their supervisor, appointing authority, and HR will work together to facilitate workplace accommodations. After identifying the functional limitations to the employee's essential job functions and determining potential accommodations, HR will construct an accommodation plan. When finished, the accommodation plan is signed by HR, the employee, their supervisor, and appointing authority.

    Once it’s in place, the accommodation plan will be periodically reviewed to ensure the accommodation in place is working, applicable, and that the plan does not need adjustment. During this time Human Resources may request that the employee provide additional medical documentation.

    If it is determined that the employee does not have a qualifying disability the employee will be presented with a denial of reasonable accommodation form and provided information as to why the request has been denied.

  • High-Risk Employees

    s part of the institutional response to COVID-19, CWU is committed to supporting employees who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you fall into any of the categories listed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you are considered at increased risk of severe outcome from COVID-19 infection. This generally includes all individuals over the age of 65 and anyone with an underlying medical condition.

    Consistent with Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights (pdf), when requested by an employee considered at high-risk from exposure to COVID-19, CWU will:

    • Provide options for alternative work assignments such as telework, alternative work locations, reassignment, or social distancing measures.
    • Where alternative work assignments are not possible, permit a high-risk employee to use any of their accrued paid time off or elect to request a voluntary layoff.
    • Maintain all employer-related health insurance benefits for employees already eligible for benefits until the employee is deemed eligible to return to work, even if the employee has exhausted all their own paid time off during the period of leave.

    CWU will not terminate, suspend, discipline, or take any other adverse employment action against an employee exercising their rights under this Proclamation, nor take any action that would result in loss of the high-risk employee’s current position by permanent replacement.

    Additionally, CWU will not apply or enforce any employment contract provisions that contradict or otherwise interfere with the intent of the Proclamation. For example, employees can use their time off in any sequence at the discretion of the employee, even if not consistent with collective bargaining agreements, civil service rules, or institutional policy.

    The proclamation is in effect through the duration of the current state of emergency initially proclaimed in Proclamation 20-05 and applies to all employees, including healthcare workers and emergency responders.

  • Disability Separations

    If an employee with a qualifying disability cannot complete the essential functions of their position, even with workplace accommodation, HR will work with the employee and supervisor to conduct an alternative job search. The employee must meet the minimum qualifications and specific position requirements, with or without reasonable accommodation, for a vacant position to be offered as a reasonable accommodation.

    The University is not required to create a position, displace another employee, offer a promotion, or move an employee into a position that they are not qualified for. Refusal by the employee to cooperate with the alternative job placement process, or to provide adequate medical documentation, may result in separation or the employee may not receive accommodation.

    Disability separation occurs when an employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his or her position, with or without reasonable accommodation, due to a disability. Disability separation is not a disciplinary action. If no applicable vacant position is available, the employee may be separated.

  • Additional Info

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination.

    The Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) Chapter 49.60 RCW provides protection against discrimination on the basis of disability.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

    Related State and Federal Laws:


  • What is the definition of disability?

    As defined by RCW 49.60.040, "Disability" means the presence of a sensory, mental or physical impairment that:

    • Is medically cognizable or diagnosable; or
    • Exists as a record or history; or
    • Is perceived to exist whether or not it exists in fact.

    A disability exists whether it is temporary or permanent, common or uncommon, mitigated or unmitigated, or whether or not it limits the ability to work generally or work at a particular job or whether or not it limits any other activity.

    For purposes of this definition, "impairment" includes, but is not limited to:

    • Any physiological disorder, or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: Neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory, including speech organs, cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin, and endocrine; or
    • Any mental, developmental, traumatic, or psychological disorder, including but not limited to cognitive limitation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.
  • How do I know if my employee needs or is requesting an accommodation?

    Keep in mind your employee does not have to use the words “disability” or “accommodation” to initiate a request. If your employee indicates they are having a problem and the problem is related to a medical condition, you should refer them to Human Resources to begin the accommodation process and let Human Resources know you’ve referred your employee.

    • Your employee says, “I’m having trouble getting to work on time because of the treatments I’m going through.” This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
    • Your employee says, “I’m going to need time off so I can finally get treatment for my back problem.” This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
    • Your employee who uses a wheelchair tells you their wheelchair doesn’t fit under their desk. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.
    • Your employee asks for a new chair because theirs is broken and uncomfortable. This is not a request for reasonable accommodation. This statement does not indicate a medical condition or impairment impacting their ability to perform the essential functions of their job. Old or broken equipment should be replaced as needed to help ensure your employee’s work area is ergonomically correct. For more information about ergonomics, see the Environmental Health and Safety - Ergonomics web page.
  • Can my supervisor ask me if I need accommodation?

    Yes, if your disability is known and it is reasonable to believe that you may need accommodation. For example, if your department is scheduling an off-site meeting or event it would be reasonable for your supervisor to ask you about accessibility to the location to help ensure you are able to participate.

  • Can the university require me to provide medical documentation in support of my request?

    Yes. The Health Care Provider Statement (PDF) is completed by your medical provider in order to establish you have an ADA disability, to show that you need accommodation, and to help determine effective accommodation options.

  • Who do I contact if I need special parking?

    All parking requests, including disability parking, should be directed the Parking Services.

Please return accommodation requests and health care provider statements to Jennifer Mertel in HR.

In person: Mitchell Hall First Floor
Via mail: 400 E. University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7425
Via secure fax: (509) 963-1733

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