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 the appropriate forms provided by our office.
Disability-related information is protected health information that must be filed with the appropriate offices, including ADA and Accessibility Services (for employees) and Services for Students with Disabilities (for students).
For information regarding benefits or leave, including the Family Medical Leave Act, workers compensation, short-term disability, and long-term disability working, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions.
Reasonable accommodations also include adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities. Reasonable accommodations do not change the fundamental elements of a program or eliminate the essential functions of a job.
Requests for accommodations are considered on a case-by-case basis. The purpose of an accommodation is to enable an individual with a disability to perform essential job functions.
Accommodations are obtained through an interactive process:
- A request is made by the employee, or an authorized representative, to ADA and Accessibility Services.
- Upon receiving a request, ADA and Accessibility Services will, as appropriate to the individual situation, provide the employee or authorized representative with medical documentation forms. The employee or authorized representative and the employee’s treating professional will complete and return the documentation to ADA and Accessibility Services.
- ADA and Accessibility Services will discuss with the employee and/or authorized representative possible barriers, review appropriate medical documentation, review the essential functions of the employee’s job, and generate possible accommodations which would enable the individual to perform the essential job functions.
- ADA and Accessibility Services will contact the supervisor of the employee requesting an accommodation to review the request and discuss the proposed accommodations. The supervisor will consider the request and provide feedback to ADA and Accessibility Services in a timely manner.
- ADA and Accessibility Services will discuss any proposed changes from the supervisor with the employee and/or authorized representative.
- Once a mutually agreeable set of accommodations is generated, an accommodation agreement will be submitted to both the employee and supervisor for approval.
Accommodations can be reviewed or restructured.
Individuals with disabilities do not need to disclose to ADA and Accessibility Services that they have a disability unless they would like to pursue requesting workplace accommodations.
Employees (including student employees) may request an ADA accommodation by following these steps:
- Employee provides cover letter and medical information request form to medical provider.
- Medical provider returns completed medical information request form to ADA and Accessibility Services by email to email@example.com or fax to 540-231-2990.
When all required forms have been fully completed and returned, an ADA and Accessibility Services team member will contact you. If you have questions or concerns, please contact ADA and Accessibility Services.
In accordance with Policy 4075, all requests for reasonable employment accommodation must involve ADA and Accessibility Services, even if a department feels they are equipped to handle the accommodation request.
If an accommodation has already been made for an employee without consulting ADA and Accessibility Services, the department must contact the office immediately. A team member will work with the supervisor and the employee to ensure proper documentation and implementation of the accommodation agreement.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that an individual self-identify as an individual with a disability. Employers cannot require an employee to contact ADA and Accessibility Services or require that an employee accept an accommodation of any kind.
Maintaining employment standards
Employees are held to the same production, performance, and behavioral standards, regardless of whether or not they have an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If the ability to perform marginal functions is affected by the disability, the employer must provide some type of reasonable accommodation such as job restructuring but may not exclude an individual with a disability who is satisfactorily performing a job's essential functions.
Health and safety considerations when hiring
The Americans with Disabilities Act permits employers to establish qualification standards that will exclude individuals who pose a direct threat (i.e., a significant risk of substantial harm) to the health and safety of the individual or others, if that risk cannot be eliminated or reduced below the level of a direct threat by reasonable accommodation.
An employer, however, may not simply assume that a threat exists; the employer must establish through objective, medically supportable methods that there is significant risk that substantial harm could occur in the workplace. By requiring employers to make individualized judgments based on reliable medical or other objective evidence rather than on generalizations, ignorance, fear, patronizing attitudes, or stereotypes, the Americans with Disabilities Act recognizes the need to balance the interests of people with disabilities against the legitimate interests of employers in maintaining a safe workplace.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of factors such as an institution’s size, financial resources, and the nature and structure of its operation.
While departmental and facility budgets will vary across the campus, this does not mean that an accommodation is automatically too expensive if it exceeds a specific operating budget. The law looks at Virginia Tech as a whole when making a determination of undue hardship, not a specific department.
Academic accommodations provided through Services for Students with Disabilities do not automatically transfer to assistantships, instructorships, appointments, or employment with the university. For workplace accommodations, student employees should engage in the process to request accommodations with ADA and Accessibility Services. (See How Do I Make an Accommodation Request above.)
Accommodations that are reasonable in the academic environment may not be considered reasonable in the workplace and vice versa. Workplace accommodations are intended to ensure individuals are able to perform the essential functions of their position and have equal access to employment and appointment opportunities. Academic accommodations are intended to ensure students have equal access to education. The accommodations needed for students with disabilities in the academic learning environment are often different from the accommodations needed in the workplace. Assessments for these two types of accommodations are different.
Disability-related information is treated as private information, meaning that information will be shared only with a limited number of individuals who “need to know” in order to assist in the review of the accommodation request, the determination, and the implementation of accommodation(s). Certain persons may need to be aware of requested accommodations, an individual’s limitations leading to the need for an accommodation, and the outcome of accommodation decisions. These persons can include, but are not limited to, a supervisor or manager, principal investigator, department chair, faculty advisor, human resources personnel, first aid and safety personnel, and those assisting with implementing accommodations. Your specific diagnosis or medical condition is not shared.
ADA & Accessibility Services does not disclose disability accommodation information to future employers.
For information regarding academic accommodations, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities.
For workplace accommodations as a student employee, please contact ADA & Accessibility Services.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is a federal law requiring covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to any employee or applicant for employment who has a known limitation due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The PWFA does not replace existing laws that protect workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, nor does it alter employer obligations or employee rights under the ADA.
For guidance on the processes for the PWFA, please review the following materials:
- Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes effect June 27
- Virginia Tech Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Guide (PDF)
- Process for Providing PWFA Accommodations (PDF)
Please direct questions regarding PWFA accommodations to OEA at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-2010.