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Individuals with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, no qualified person will be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity operated by Austin Peay State University (APSU) because of disability. APSU will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities in employment practices and activities, including, but not limited to, application procedures, hiring, tenure, promotion, advancement, termination, training, compensation and benefits.  Additionally, APSU will not discriminate against a qualified individual because of the known disability of another individual with whom the qualified individual is known to have a relationship or association.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Overview

Pursuant to the ADA a person is a qualified individual with a disability:

  1. If he or she has a physical or mental condition that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity (such as hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning or working); or
  2. If he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission); or
  3. If he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

Title I of the ADA requires an employer (i.e., APSU) to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. According to the ADA, an accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.

 Categories of Reasonable Accommodations

  1. Modifications or adjustments to a job application process that enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position such qualified applicant desires; or
  2. Modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed, that enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or
  3. Modifications or adjustments that enable a covered entity's employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment as are enjoyed by its other similarly situated employees without disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that he or she holds or seeks, and who can perform the "essential functions" of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2020, May 5). What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

Essential job functions are fundamental job duties of the employment position the individual with a disability holds or desires. The term "essential functions" does not include the marginal functions of the position.

A job function may be considered essential for any of several reasons, including but not limited to the following:

    1. The function may be essential because the reason the position exists is to perform that function;
    2. The function may be essential because of the limited number of employees available among whom the performance of that job function can be distributed; and/or
    3. The function may be highly specialized so that the incumbent in the position is hired for his or her expertise or ability to perform the particular function.

 ADA National Network. (2020, May). What are the “essential functions” of a Job? https://adata.org/faq/what-are-essential-functions-job

Because each request is specific to the individual employee and his or her circumstance(s), a specific time-frame cannot be given. However, we will work through the interactive process as expeditiously as possible.

 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends that employers use an “interactive process,” which means that employers and employees with disabilities who request accommodations work together to come up with accommodations.

 Job Accommodation Network. (2019, 3 July). Accommodation and Compliance Series: Interactive Process. https://askjan.org/topics/interactive.cfm?cssearch=2581848_1

COVID-19 Impact 

Equal Employment Opportunity laws, including the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504 continue to apply during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, pursuant to information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and persons of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risks for severe illness from COVID-19. Furthermore, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employees with certain preexisting mental health conditions may have more difficulty handling the disruption to daily life that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic.Employees who believe that they fall into any of the aforementioned categories may request a workplace accommodation due to the COVID-19 impact.

Please click on the Workplace Accommodation Inquiry tab to initiate the process. 

Anyone who is 65 years of age or older.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2020, May) People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html

Being 65 years of age or older, and working in a high-risk area on campus may not be conducive to a healthy working environment.  Older adults who have severe underlying medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more severe complications from COVID-19 illness. If you are 65 or older and work in a high-risk area versus a low or moderate risk area or have a critical underlying medical condition, you may want workplace accommodations due to the COVID-19 impact.

    1. People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    2. People who have serious heart conditions
    3. People who are immunocompromised
      1. Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
    4. People with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)
    5. People with diabetes
    6. People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
    7. People with liver disease

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (2020, May) People Who Need to Take Extra Precautions https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html

    1. anxiety disorder
    2. obsessive-compulsive disorder
    3. post-traumatic stress disorder

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2020, May 5). What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

    1. It is possible that in some instances, COVID-19 will be a disability within the meaning of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 [Section 504] and the Americans with Disabilities Act or 1990 [the ADA], and in other instances, it will not, depending on the impact of the virus on an individual’s major life activities, such as breathing.
    2. Even if an individual’s case of COVID-19 does not qualify as a disability, under Section 504 and the ADA, its manifestations and/or accompanying social isolation and distancing may impact a  known or documented condition (impairment) that is currently a disability within the meaning of Section 504 and the ADA, for example:

Persons with depression may find the depth of their depression greater or their cyclical depression triggered to the point where they can no longer complete work assignments in a timely manner or with their usual accuracy, requiring new or additional accommodations. 

https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide; https://www.who.int/publications-detail/mental- health-and-psychosocial-considerations-during-the-covid-19-outbreak

Grossman, P. (2020) 2019-2020 Higher Education Disability Rights “Legal Year in Review” Court Decisions, Settlements, & Agency Guidance [Webinar] Retrieved from https://www.ahead.org/home

 Foundation

      1. The ADA protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of a disability who 1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one of more major life activities, 2) have a record of such an impairment, or 3) are regarded as having an impairment.
      2. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA)
        1. Expanded the list of major life activities to include “bodily functions” such as respiratory and hemic systems.
        2. Made clear that the term “substantially limits” must be interpreted broadly.
        3. Disabilities with systems that are episodic or in remission must be considered as if they are active.
        4. Impairments must be considered even if a person uses “mitigating measures,” such as medications that lessen the adverse impact of the impairment on a person’s major life activities.
  1. It is clear that COVID-19 is an “impairment” – it is a physiological disorder or condition affecting one or more body systems such as respiratory and immune systems.
  2. Not all impairments are disabilities. Impairment is only one element of a disability. The impairment has to substantially limit one or more major life activities.
  3. There is some scientific and medical evidence as to the major life activities impacted by COVID-19; however, until there is a reliable understanding of which major life activities may be affected, it is hard to get a fix on which systems should be scrutinized as to whether COVID-19 impacted them substantially.
  4. Since COVID-19 is not yet listed in EEOC or Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations as a “virtually always” impairment like diabetes, cancer, PTSD, or clinical depression, COVID-19 is a “spectrum impairment,” requiring proof by an employee that its impact on his/her identified major life activity is substantial.

 

Grossman, P. (2020) 2019-2020 Higher Education Disability Rights “Legal Year in Review” Court Decisions, Settlements, & Agency Guidance [Webinar] Retrieved from https://www.ahead.org/home

Because each request is specific to the individual employee and his or her circumstance(s), a specific time-frame cannot be given. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission advises that during the pandemic, agencies may choose to shorten the exchange of information between employee and employer.

 Following the guidance from the Equal Opportunity Commission, APSU may provide a requested accommodation on an interim or trial basis, with an end date, while awaiting receipt of medical documentation.

 Yes. These CDC designations, or any other designations of certain employees, do not eliminate coverage under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act, or any other equal employment opportunity law. Therefore, requests for reasonable accommodation under the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act from employees falling in these categories of jobs will be accepted and processed as they would for any other employee.

 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2020, May 5). What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

 If an employee requests to reduce exposure to others due to a disability, if not already implemented for all employees, accommodations may include changes to the work environment such as designating one-way aisles; using plexiglass, tables, or other barriers to ensure minimum distances between customers and coworkers whenever feasible per CDC guidance or other accommodations that reduce chances of exposure.  Temporary job restructuring of marginal job duties, temporary transfers to a different position, or modifying a work schedule/shift assignment or working remotely may also permit an individual with a disability to perform safely the essential functions of the job while reducing exposure to others in the workplace or while commuting.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2020, May 5). What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

Yes. Inquiries and reliable medical exams meet this standard if it is necessary to exclude employees with a medical condition that would pose a direct threat to health or safety.

Direct threat is to be determined based on the best available objective medical evidence. The guidance from CDC or other public health authorities is such evidence. Therefore, employers will be acting consistent with the ADA as long as any screening implemented is consistent with advice from the CDC and public health authorities for that type of workplace at that time.

For example, this may include continuing to take temperatures and asking questions about symptoms (or require self-reporting) of all those entering the workplace. Similarly, the CDC recently posted information on return by certain types of critical workers.

Employers should make sure not to engage in unlawful disparate treatment based on protected characteristics in decisions related to screening and exclusion.

 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2020, May 5). What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws. https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws

No, you cannot. To request an accommodation based on the ADA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the individual requesting the accommodation has to be an APSU employee who

    1. is a qualified individual with a disability,
    2. is an older adult as defined by the CDC,
    3. has an underlying medical condition that CDC guidance states could put them at a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, or
    4. has preexisting mental health conditions that make handling the disruption to daily life that has accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic difficult.

Yes. Pursuant to the Equal Employment Opportunity an employer does not have to provide a particular reasonable accommodation if it poses an “undue hardship” which means "significant difficulty or expense." In some instances, an accommodation that would not have posed an undue hardship prior to the pandemic may pose one now.

Reasonable Accommodations Inquiry

If you are seeking a workplace accommodation, please complete the form below. The Office of Equity, Access, & Inclusion will contact you as soon as possible.

 
Is this inquiry related to COVID-19?
 

Title I of the ADA requires that APSU treat this information as confidential medical records and that they are kept separately from your personnel file. These records are kept in the Office of Equity, Access, & Inclusion.