Disability Accommodations and FAQs
Central Washington University is committed to providing reasonable workplace accommodations to individuals with disabilities. If you are an individual seeking workplace accommodation, please review this website and/or contact Human Resources for more information.
April 13, 2020 Update: COVID-19 Employment Accommodation for High Risk Employees
To be eligible for disability accommodation you must have a sensory, mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity and impacts your ability to perform the essential functions of your job or have a record of an impairment. In addition, 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 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 to perform the essential functions of your position, please complete the Accommodation Request Form and return it to HR. Contact HR if you have any questions about the application process.
The process begins when an employee informs the University of a need for assistance. Employees do not have to use the word "accommodation," but they must indicate that they have difficulty carrying out their tasks due to a disability. To facilitate the employee’s request HR will typically them ask to fill out and return the Accommodation Request Form. This provides the employee with a way to identify the assistance they feel they need and why they need it. In addition, HR often needs supporting documentation of the disability from a medical professional. The employee will be asked to fill out the medical release portion of the Health Care Provider Statement in order to facilitate this need. All medical information received will be stored confidentially and independently from the employee's personnel file.
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.
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.
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:
RCW 49.60 Discrimination – Human Rights Commission
WAC 162-22 Employment – Handicapped Persons
WAC 357-26 Reasonable Accommodation
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 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. When your disability is not obvious you must provide the information requested on the Health Care Provider Statement in order to establish you have an ADA disability, to show that you need accommodation, and to help determine effective accommodation options.
Is the medical information I submit confidential?
Yes. Human Resources maintains your medical information confidentially and separate from regular personnel records. Medical records or information must not be kept in department files.
Human Resources will not communicate confidential medical information. Some information, such as work restrictions or limitations, will be shared on a need-to-know basis to help facilitate the accommodation process. You are not required to reveal the diagnosis of your condition or the details of your medical treatment to your immediate supervisor or to co-workers. You may choose to share this kind of information with others if you wish, however medical information you share with co-workers will likely be passed on to others.
Does the university have to provide the accommodation I request?
No. When there are two or more effective accommodations options, your requested accommodation will be considered, but the university will determine which accommodation will be provided. Any accommodation provided must be reasonable.
Who do I contact if I need special parking?
All parking requests, including disability parking, should be directed the Parking Services.
How often are accommodations reviewed?
Accommodations will be reviewed periodically to help ensure your accommodation is still reasonable and effective. All accommodations are reviewed on a regular schedule. In addition, accommodations will be reviewed if your condition changes, if your assigned duties change, if you change jobs, or if your supervisor changes. You or your supervisor may also request a review at any time to help ensure the accommodation is still effective. You are encouraged to contact Human Resources if you believe your accommodation needs adaptation.
In some cases, the review may include a request for updated medical documentation or confirmation that accommodation is still necessary. For instance, if your medical documentation stated your need for accommodation would change over time or the duration of the need for accommodation is unclear, it may be appropriate for the university to request updated medical information.
If your condition changes or you have new documentation to provide, please contact Human Resources.
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