The interactive process is an informal practice in which the employee and employer determine the precise limitations created by the disability and how best to respond to the need for an accommodation. The ADA Compliance unit will engage in the interactive process to discuss and identify (1) whether the employee is an individual with a disability pursuant to governing law and, if so, (2) whether the employee can be reasonably accommodated in their position. The interactive process requires good faith participation from both the employee and the university.
During this interactive process, ADA Compliance may ask for documentation of a medical condition from the treating physician of the employee for the purpose of gathering information needed to determine whether the employee has a disability and the workplace limitations resulting from the disability. This may vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability and the accommodation requested. The inquiry will be limited to information necessary to determine disability and appropriate reasonable accommodation(s). Having a medical condition alone is not enough to make an employee eligible for an accommodation; under the ADA, an employee must have a condition that qualifies as a disability. ADA Compliance reserves the right to seek additional medical opinions on these issues at the expense of the university or to follow-up with questions for the employee’s medical provider.
Thereafter, the ADA Compliance unit, in collaboration with the employee’s supervisor and Human Resources, will determine the feasibility of any potential accommodation, considering factors such as what workplace barrier is impeding the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of their position, how the requested accommodation will enable the employee to perform their essential functions, the nature and cost of the accommodation, the accommodation’s impact on the operation of the facility, and the accommodation’s impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties in a safe and efficient manner. The university is not required to provide an accommodation that will eliminate an essential function of the position of lower production standards, nor must it provide personal use items or amenities (a personal use item is one that is needed in accomplishing daily activities both on and off the job – thus, an employer is not required to provide an employee with a prosthetic limb, a wheelchair, eyeglasses, hearing aids, or similar devices if they are also needed off the job).
After this consultation, the ADA Compliance unit shall make the final determination as to whether the employee is disabled under the ADA and can be reasonably accommodated in their position. Once a decision has been made, a Notice of Determination (“NOD”) will be issued to inform the employee of the decision regarding the accommodation request. The NOD will be sent to the employee and those considered to need to know the accommodation decision, such as a supervisor or manager, within 5 business days of the decision.