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Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace Job Accommodation Network's Approach to Reasonable Accommodations Slide 1 Process for Identifying Workplace Accommodations Accommodation Process 1. Define the Situation 2. Perform Needs Assessment 3. Explore Alternative Placement Options 4. Redefine the Situation 5. Monitor Accommodations Hello. My name is Mandy Gamble and I’m here with my colleague, Tracie Saab and we will be presenting information on the accommodation process. The accommodation process as used by Human Factors Consultants at the Job Accommodation Network, a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor can be a helpful tool in determining successful job accommodation outcomes. When faced with the accommodation process, it is important to understand what accommodation means… An accommodation is a modification or change in the way things are typically done. This could be a modification of the job or work environment. The GOAL of accommodation is to “level the playing field” by reducing or eliminating workplace barriers & allowing equal employment opportunities. There are typically 3 reasons why an accommodation might be provided for an individual with a disability in the workplace. 1) To ensure equal opportunity in the pre-employment process such as the application or interview 2) To perform essential functions of the job and 3) To provide equal opportunity in benefits and privileges of employment JAN views accommodations as a way to bridge the distance between the maximum ability of the individual and the essential functions of the job. So today we are going to look at the 5 step process used at JAN as a tool for exploring and finding accommodations in the Workplace: The steps are: 1. Define the Situation 2. Perform Needs Assessment 3. Explore Alternative Placement Options 4. Redefine the Situation 5. Monitor Accommodation I do need to emphasize that this session will not focus on legal ADA issues but rather on a process for finding successful accommodation outcomes. Let’s move on to the process, starting with Step 1 Slide 2 Step 1: Define the Situation What are the functional limitations? Is the condition progressive, stable or unpredictable? Is documentation needed? What is problematic? Step 1, defining the situation" this is a critical part of the process. The accommodation process may be triggered by a request for accommodation from an employee or applicant or when an employer knows of a disability and barriers or performance issues are apparent. Once the need is apparent the employer may need to clarify or define the situation. The employer can consider the following questions to help define the situation: 1. What are the symptoms and functional limitations? Look at the individual " what are their symptoms and/or functional limitations" no 2 people will have the same exact limitations. A functional limitation can be defined as the inability to perform an action or a set of actions, either physical or mental, because of a physical or emotional restriction or limitation. The symptoms and limitations of the specific individual should be addressed rather than considering the symptoms and limitations of a class of individuals. 2. Is the condition progressive, stable or unpredictable? This may not always be a factor to consider. In some circumstances, knowing how the individual's condition will change will be important during the accommodation process. 3. Is documentation needed? When defining the situation, documentation may be useful but not always necessary, especially if the need for accommodation is obvious. Such documentation should be job-related and provide an employer with information regarding how an individual's specific functional limitations affect job performance. The documentation should focus on information about the individual's current need for accommodation. 4. What are the problematic job tasks, environments, equipment, or policies? This may be a good time to study the individual's job description to determine the essential and marginal functions of the position. Also consider factors related to the work environment and the employee's ability to use equipment and follow Workplace policies. Once you have defined the situation the next step in the process is to perform a needs assessment. Slide 3 Step 2: Perform Needs Assessment Job Modification - schedule changed to avoid heavy traffic Policy Change - modified dress code to eliminate fragrance Facility Modification - ramp & door handles installed When looking at a prospective position for an applicant or the current position for an employee, Step 2 can help determine what actions for accommodation need to be considered. Now let's look at the questions to consider in the Assessment Stage of the accommodation process. It is important to note: in finding an accommodation solution, you may need to consider one or more of these questions depending on the situation. The questions to consider are: Is it necessary to modify the job? Is it necessary to modify a policy? Is it necessary to modify the facility? Is it necessary to use a product or piece of equipment? Is it necessary to modify or design a product? And Is it necessary to obtain a service? You can imagine that more than one of these questions may need to be addressed. A useful resource to help with exploring accommodation options is JAN's Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR). Visit SOAR on the Web at www.jan.wvu.edu/soar/index.html/ Now let's look at each question within Step 2. The first question: Is it necessary to modify the job? Modifying a job may include restructuring the job by eliminating marginal job functions; changing a shift or hours worked; providing a flexible schedule; sharing job duties; and working at home. Here is an example of a situation and solution involving a modification to a job: The situation: A data entry clerk who has agoraphobia had difficulty traveling during peak hours of traffic. The solution: Her hours were changed to work 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (an example of a change in the schedule). If modifying the job is successful then move on to Step 5: Monitor Accommodations. If it is not possible to modify the job or additional accommodations need to be considered, continue with the next question in Step 2. The next question: Is it necessary to modify a policy? In some cases an employer may consider modifying or implementing a policy that will reduce a Workplace barrier as an accommodation. Policies might address attendance, food and beverages at workstations, wearing or using fragrances, or allowing animals in the Workplace. Here is an example of a situation and solution involving a modification to a Workplace policy: The situation: A team leader is hypersensitive to fragrances. The solution: The dress code was modified to include a statement requesting that employees refrain from wearing fragrances in the Workplace. If a modification to a policy is the solution, formalize the policy changes, notify employees and create an enforcement procedure, then move on to Step 5. If it is not applicable to modify or implement a policy or additional accommodations need to be considered, continue with the next question in Step 2. The next question: Is it necessary to modify the facility? Modifying the existing facility can include installing ramps at an entrance, modifying restrooms, or providing accessible parking spaces for employees with a mobility impairment. Other modifications may include removing physical obstacles or installing an emergency alerting system that has both visual and audible alarms for employees who are deaf or hard of hearing. Here is an example of a situation and solution involving a modification to a facility: The situation: A professor cannot access the entrance to the Biology Department building. The solution: A ramp was built and the door knob was replaced with a lever handle. If a modification of the facility is successful, move on to Step 5. If it is not possible to modify the facility or additional accommodations need to be considered, continue with the next question in Step 2. Slide 4 Step 2: Perform Needs Assessment Product / Equipment Used - magnification software and closed circuit television Product Modified / Made - cookie template Service Obtained - Braille handbook If successful go to Step 5: Monitor Accommodation, If not go to Step 3: Explore Options The next question: Is it necessary to use a product or piece of equipment? Lots of products are on the market to assist people with disabilities. Common terms used to refer to such products are Assistive Technology (AT), ergonomic and independent living aids. Some products may be specifically designed for people with disabilities while others are not but can still be used as an accommodation. When acquiring a product or piece of equipment, it is important to consider compatibility issues, training, technical support and maintenance. Here is an example of a situation and solution involving a product or piece of equipment: The situation: A data entry clerk was having difficulty viewing printed materials and her computer screen. The solution: She was provided screen magnification software and a Closed Circuit TV (CCTV). If the use of a product or piece of equipment is successful, then move on to Step 5. If it is not possible to use a product or piece of equipment or if additional accommodations are needed, continue with the next question in Step 2. The next question: Is it necessary to modify or design a product? Sometimes a product that is needed just doesn't exist or meet the needs of the employee. An employer may be able to make modifications "in-house" or it may be necessary to contact a rehabilitation engineer or other professional to modify or design a product to enable an individual to perform the essential functions of the job. Here is an example of a situation and solution involving modifying or designing a product: The situation: A cookie maker with a learning disability, dyscalcula, was having difficulty counting 12 cookies at a time. The solution: A template was designed to hold 12 cookies. Once the holes were filled, the baking sheet was ready for the oven. If modifying or designing a product is successful, then move on to Step 5. If it is not possible to modify or design a product or if additional accommodations are needed, continue with the next question in step 2. The next question: Is it necessary to obtain a service? Sometimes a product or modification to a job or work environment may not be the accommodation solution. In some cases it may be necessary to obtain a service. Services can include providing a qualified interpreter or reader, contracting for Braille transcription services or performing an ergonomic assessment. Here is an example of a situation and solution involving obtaining a service: The situation: A teacher who is blind could not read the printed employee and student handbook. The solution: The employer used a Braille transcription service to produce the handbook in Braille. If answering the questions in Step 2: Perform Needs Assessment resulted in a successful accommodation implement the accommodation and move on to Step 5 Monitoring Accommodations. If not, then continue on to the next step, Explore Alternative Placement Options. Tracie Saab will now discuss the final 3 steps in the accommodation process. Slide 5 Step 3: Explore Alternative Placement Options Is reassignment a possibility? Is the employee qualified for reassignment? Are there any vacant positions with similar pay and benefits? Thank you Mandy. Now, let's discuss Step 3 in the accommodation process. The road to a successful accommodation outcome can be a bumpy one. During Step 2, various roadblocks may lead an employer to the conclusion that accommodation in the current position may not be possible. While it is traditional to accommodate an employee in their current position, an employer should consider Step 3, Explore Alternative Placement Options, and address whether the employee could be reassigned to another position as the effective accommodation solution. Traditionally, an employer is only obligated to reassign an employee to a vacant position for which he/she is qualified. Reassignment is referred to as a reasonable accommodation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal government agency that enforces Title I, the employment provisions, of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Normally when JAN discusses the Job Accommodation Process, JAN tries to speak in terms of accommodation ideas as opposed to addressing ADA requirements. However, when it comes to reassignment issues, it is difficult not to address the ADA. EEOC does provide guidance regarding reassignment as an accommodation. The reassignment information provided during this segment of our lecture is based upon guidance provided by that agency. This guidance known as, Enforcement Guidance: Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), can be found on EEOC's Website at www.eeoc.gov. Let's consider some of the questions that might be addressed when exploring reassignment as an accommodation. "Is reassignment a possibility?" EEOC refers to reassignment as the accommodation of last resort. According to the Enforcement Guidance, reassignment should be considered when, "(1) there are no effective accommodations that will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of his/her current position, or (2) all other reasonable accommodations would impose an undue hardship. However, according to the EEOC, "if both the employer and the employee voluntarily agree that transfer is preferable to remaining in the current position with some form of reasonable accommodation, then the employer may transfer the employee." If reassignment is a possibility as an accommodation, "Is the employee qualified for reassignment?" Reassignment is only available to qualified employees, not applicants or newly hired employees who were never able to perform the job functions upon being hired. To be considered qualified, the employee must possess the skills and qualifications required for the vacant position. The employer is not required to provide training to make the employee eligible for the position beyond what would normally be provided to any other person. Accommodations may also be needed in the position the person is reassigned to. If the employee is qualified for reassignment, "Are there any vacant, equivalent positions?" Reassignment should first be considered to a vacant position at an equivalent level, with similar pay and benefits and second to a lower graded position, with less pay and benefits. According to the EEOC, if an employee is reassigned to a lower graded position, an employer is not required to maintain the employee's original salary and benefits unless the employer customarily does so for other similarly situated employees. There may be a collective bargaining agreement or policy in place requiring the employee's rate of pay to stay the same for a period of time. Slide 6 Step 3: Explore Alternative Placement Options Will the employee receive an equal employment opportunity? Are accommodations needed for the new position? If successful go to Step 5: Monitor Accommodations. If not go to Step 4: Redefine the Situation Will the employee receive an equal employment opportunity?" Reassignment may not be used as a way to limit, segregate or discriminate against an individual with a disability. Reassignment should not be used as a way to place an employee in a position that would segregate them or create an undesirable employment situation. Let's consider this further with an example. An employee who works in a sales position is receiving treatment for cancer and has lost her hair. The employer is concerned about customers' perceptions of the employee. As an accommodation, the employee requests reassignment to a sales position that accommodates a flexible schedule for treatment. Two positions are vacant, A and B. The employee is better qualified for position A, which requires direct customer contact. The employer places the employee in position B because direct customer contact is not involved as sales are handled by telephone. The employer has chosen to limit the employee's employment opportunity to work in direct customer sales by 'hiding' her from customers due to his fears of customer perceptions. Next question. If an employee will be reassigned as an accommodation, it may be necessary to ask, "Are accommodations needed in the new position?" The accommodation process is an on-going process. It may still be necessary to address accommodations in an alternate position. Let's take a look at some situations and solutions involving reassignment. Situation: An operating room nurse with a latex allergy was unable to work in the OR and around latex gloves. Solution: She was reassigned to a vacant position which required clinical case management duties and did not involve direct contact with latex. Situation: A police officer was unable to patrol the streets due to injuries to his neck, shoulders and back. Solution: The officer was reassigned to a desk job and permitted to alternate between sitting and standing positions. Now, if alternative placement options have been explored in step 3 and a successful accommodation outcome has not been achieved, move on to Step 4: Redefine the Situation. Slide 7 Step 4: Redefine the Situation Was a step overlooked? Has an accommodation team been assembled? Has there been an attempt to make a good faith effort? Has the employee been notified? The Job Accommodation Process does not always end with a successful accommodation outcome. If you have reached Step 4, it may be necessary to redefine the accommodation situation. Let's consider some questions in step 4. Was a step overlooked during the accommodation process? It may be helpful to seek out additional resources that can provide further insight regarding potential accommodation options. Resources such as the Job Accommodation Network, state and private vocational rehabilitation services and assistive technology agencies may be of help. Next, has an accommodation team been assembled? An accommodation team can consist of any number of individuals who understand functional limitations, job functions and accommodation concepts. Members of the team might include rehabilitation engineers, assistive technology specialists, occupational therapists, and others with the appropriate knowledge. Another question, has there been an attempt to make a good faith effort? When redefining the situation, an employer will want to be sure that accommodation ideas have been exhausted and that a good faith effort has resulted. There are certainly situations when a successful accommodation outcome may not occur. If the employer and the employee have worked collaboratively to identify possible accommodations, it is likely that a good faith effort has resulted. Employers are encouraged to document their accommodation efforts. Lastly, has the employee been notified? If an accommodation cannot be identified and the employee is no longer able to perform essential job functions, the employee may no longer be qualified to retain the position. The employer should notify the employee of their employment status and provide any available options, such as long term disability benefits, if applicable. Now, if situation has been redefined in step 4 and a successful accommodation outcome has not been achieved, the accommodation process will come to an end. However, if an accommodation has been successfully provided at this point in the accommodation process, move to step 5: Monitor Accommodations. Slide 8 Step 5: Monitor Accommodations Who will monitor accommodations Does the employee know about the process? Have any changes occurred in ability, environment or job duties? Have job modifications been effective? Are modified policies enforced? Step 5 is probably the most often neglected step in the accommodation process. Employers sometimes think of accommodations as a one-time fix. Once an accommodation has been identified and provided, it is important to monitor the accommodation to ensure its effectiveness. It is necessary to check-in with the employee with a disability to determine whether the accommodation provided is effective and whether any change has occurred that would alter current accommodation needs. There are several questions that are relevant to monitoring accommodations. First, who will monitor accommodations? For example, a supervisor, manager, human resource professional, or ADA coordinator may be designated to monitor accommodations. Next, does the employee know about the monitoring process? The employee with the disability should be aware of the monitoring process and know who is responsible for monitoring accommodations. If the employer has a reasonable accommodation policy it might include a statement related to monitoring accommodations and who to contact if problems arise. Has any change occurred in the employee's limitations, environment or job duties? Change happens. The employee may no longer need the specific accommodation or may need additional accommodations to perform essential job functions. The work environment may have changed in some way due to remodeling or the weather. New duties may have been added to the position the employee has been reassigned to or been maintained in. Part of the maintenance process is identifying and dealing with these changes. Continuing with more questions regarding monitoring accommodations, have job modifications been effective? Any accommodation that has been provided should be an effective accommodation. Assess whether the modifications are meeting both the employer's and the employee's needs. If a policy was modified or implemented as an accommodation, is the policy being enforced or adhered to?" The accommodation is probably not effective if a policy is not being adhered to or enforced. Management should be informed about the modified policy. Let's take a look at a Situation and Solution regarding a newly implemented policy. Situation: A graphic artist who has asthma triggered by fragrances requested that the employer ask employees to refrain from wearing fragrances in the Workplace. Solution: A fragrance policy was implemented and employees were informed that failure to abide by the policy would result in discipline. slide 9 Step 5: Monitor Accommodations Purchased Products Was training provided? Is it being properly used and maintained? Is something needed to support its use?* Services Provided Is it effective?* Reassignment Are other supports needed?* All Accommodations Is support offered to maintain accommodations? A few more questions, if a product was purchased as an accommodation, it may be necessary to address needs associated with the use of the product or equipment. So, was training provided so the employee can use the equipment? Is the product being used properly? Is the product being maintained? Lastly, are other accommodations needed to support the use of the product? If a service was provided as an accommodation, is the service effective? Let's take another look at a situation and solution to illustrate why it is important to monitor providing a service as an accommodation. Situation: A union employee who is deaf was provided an ASL interpreter for safety meetings but the individual was having difficulty understanding the information communicated during the meetings. Solution: After a discussion with the employee, it was determined that the employee needed an interpreter skilled in Signed English rather than American Sign Language (ASL). A qualified interpreter was provided to ensure effective communication. An employer should make certain the service provided meets the needs of the individual and enables effective job performance. Moving on with step 5, if the employee was reassigned, are additional accommodations needed in the new position?" Occasionally, an employee may need accommodations to perform the functions of the newly assigned position. An employer should address these accommodation needs when reassigning the employee. The last question regarding monitoring accommodations, is support being offered to the individual with the disability to maintain the accommodations that were implemented? Ideally, the employer and employee should work together to ensure that accommodations are enabling the employee to benefit from an equal employment opportunity. Remember that the goal of an accommodation should be to bridge the distance between the maximum ability of the individual and the essential functions of a job. By playing a supportive role, employers are more likely to benefit from the hard work exhibited by loyal employees both with and without disabilities alike. That completes steps 1-5 of the accommodation process. Slide 10 5 Step Accommodation Process 1. Define the Situation 2. Perform Needs Assessment 3. Explore Alternative Placement Options 4. Redefine the Situation 5. Monitor Accommodations To recap, here you see a flow chart of the accommodation process, Step 1 through 5: The accommodation process begins with Step 1; Define the Situation, if the need for accommodation is obvious implement the accommodation and go to Step 5 Monitor Accommodations, if not go on to Step 2 Perform Needs Assessment. After performing the needs assessment, if you find a successful outcome, go to Step 5 Monitor Accommodations, if not, go on to Step 3 Explore Alternative Placement Options. After exploring alternative placement options, if you find a successful outcome, go to Step 5 Monitor Accommodations, if not, go on to Step 4 Redefine the Situation. Redefining the situation refers back to the first step in defining the situation, if you find a successful outcome, go to Monitor Accommodations. And finally, Step 5 is an ongoing process which emphasizes a need to monitor accommodations to ensure that the individual’s needs are being met.
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