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COVID-19 and the ADA, and other EEO laws

Lastest update July 8, 2020

COVID-19 and the ADA, and other EEO laws

The goal is to provide employees with information as Virginia Tech continues to make decisions about the operational status of the university.  Employees should remember that guidance from federal and state public health authorities is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.  Therefore, employees should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety.  There are some helpful links below.

What we know about COVID-19 and the ADA:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides protection from discrimination for individuals on the basis of disability. During the COVID-19 pandemic individuals with disabilities have the same civil rights protection to access employment in the public and private sectors, transportation, public accommodations, services provided by state and local government, and telecommunications services.  

What we are doing:

ADA and Accessibility Services responds to requests for ADA workplace accommodations at Virginia Tech.  University Policy 4075 is in place to assist individuals requesting accommodations and requires that each employee submit adequate medical documentation to our office. 

As per University Policy 4075, where there are requests for accommodations or flexibility based on medical circumstances, we will ask that employees follow the outlined procedures below to make a request for reasonable accommodations.  This process will allow employees to seek accommodations without having to share confidential medical information with a supervisor.  Accommodations could include options such as an altered work schedule, telework, modification to office environment, PPE, or additional cleaning supplies.  More information about this process and how it works is available at the ADA & Accessibility Services website.

Our office has streamlined processes for individuals requesting modifications to their workplace based on a disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Currently, an abbreviated request process is implement. Details are outlined below.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified increased risk conditions.  It is important to note that only individuals with the conditions identified as possible or at increased risk can utilize protections under ADA to obtain a workplace accommodation.  Such health conditions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state due to:
    • Solid organ transplant
    • Blood or bone marrow transplant
    • Immune deficiencies
    • HIV
    • Use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines
  • Serious heart conditions, such as:
    • Heart failure
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Diabetes
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Neurological conditions, such as: 
    • Dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Thalassemia
  • Pre-existing mental health conditions that are exacerberated by disruptions due to COVID-19, including: 
    • Anxiety disorder
    • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, 
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Other conditions identified by the Centers for Disease Control

If you need accommodations because you have a health condition that puts you at high risk of contracting COVID-19, creates a high risk of developing more severe complications from COVID-19, or requires modifications to your workplace due to COVID-19, you must complete the following steps and email completed forms to adaaccess@vt.edu. If possible, please submit your accommodation request at least two weeks prior to the date you are expected to return to working on-campus.

  1. Employee fills out medical release form authorizing ADA and Accessibility Services to receive documents from medical provider.
  2. Employee contacts medical provider to obtain a letter that states:
    • a. Employee’s pre-existing medical condition 
    • b. If employee is at high risk for COVID-19
    • c. Recommended workplace accommodation
  3. Employee provides the ADA office with both the medical release form and the letter from medical provider.
  4. When all required forms have been fully completed and returned, ADA and Accessibility Services will contact you.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the ADA office at adaaccess@vt.edu.

Please note, if you are returning to work, or need an accommodation for any other reason related to a disability please contact our office at adaccess@vt.edu.

Once ADAAS receives your request, our office will contact you and your supervisor to make them aware of your request and discuss whether your requested accommodation is feasible. Supervisors will not be provided any health information, will be reminded to keep your request confidential, and that retaliation is prohibited.

ADAAS will notify you and your supervisor, in writing, of any reasonable accommodation(s) our office can authorize. ADAAS will strive to provide this notice prior to the date you are expected to return to work on-campus, provided your request was submitted in advance of that date. However, if ADAAS will be unable to meet that goal, you will be notified and temporary accommodations will be discussed.

All requests will be evaluated in accordance with the University Policy 4075 on University Accommodations of Persons with Disabilities.

Contact Information:

Address
North End Center, Suite 2300 (0150)
300 Turner Street NW
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Email
adaaccess@vt.edu