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FAQs: Workplace Accommodations at Stanford University

1. What is a workplace accommodation?
2. What laws provide protection for individuals with disabilities?
3. What is considered a disability under the ADA/FEHA?
4. How do I request a workplace accommodation at Stanford?
5. If I request a workplace accommodation, will I be asked to provide verification of my disability?
6. How will my workplace accommodation request be evaluated?
7. What if I don't know what type of workplace accommodation will be helpful to allow me to perform the essential functions of my job?
8. What if I request a facility-related accommodation, e.g. power-operated door?
9. What if my condition is not considered a disability under the ADA/FEHA?
10. Who will receive information about my health condition and/or my request for a workplace accommodation?
11. Where is my disability-related information kept?
12. Where can I obtain more information about Stanford's policy and procedure related to the ADA/FEHA and workplace accommodations?

1. What is a workplace accommodation?

A workplace accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, the work environment, or the way in which a job is usually done that enables an individual with a disability, who is otherwise qualified to perform a job, to attain the same level of performance and to enjoy the same benefits and privileges of employment. Examples of workplace accommodations include ergonomic equipment and/or modification to a workstation, use of assistive technology, use of auxiliary aides and/or services, leave, modifications to work schedule, etc.

2. What laws provide protection for individuals with disabilities?

The federal and state laws that protect individuals with disabilities requesting workplace accommodations are the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The ADA is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. The employment provisions of the ADA prohibit employers from discriminating on the basis of disability and require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities who are qualified to perform a job. The ADA also requires public access and nondiscrimination by public entities, as well as enhances access to transportation and telecommunications. FEHA is the state of California civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, and ensures equal access by requiring employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations to perform the essential functions of their job.

3. What is considered a disability under the ADA/FEHA?

A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more of a person's major life activities. Major life activities can include seeing, hearing, walking, standing, sitting, breathing, caring for oneself, the operation of major bodily functions, learning, etc.

4. How do I request a workplace accommodation at Stanford?

If you are a staff member and wish to request a workplace accommodation, you are responsible for beginning the process by requesting an accommodation from your immediate supervisor or human resources manager. If you are a faculty member, you should contact your department chair, departmental or school faculty affairs office, or the Diversity and Access Office. These requests should be made in writing and should include the following information:

a. Description of requested workplace accommodation;
b. Brief explanation of how the requested workplace accommodation will enable you to perform your job; and
c. Physical or mental condition and its duration.

5. If I request a workplace accommodation, will I be asked to provide verification of my disability?

Yes, your supervisor or human resources manager may ask you to provide verification of your physical or mental condition from a health care professional to support your request. The type of documentation necessary to verify the disability may vary depending on the nature and extent of the disability and the accommodation requested.  

6. How will my workplace accommodation request be evaluated?

Your supervisor or human resources manager will meet with you individually to discuss the request and explain the process. After your supervisor or human resources manager receives the verification of the physical or mental condition from the health care professional, they will determine whether the condition is considered a disability under the ADA/FEHA. If the condition is protected by the ADA/FEHA, your supervisor or human resources manager will then determine whether the requested workplace accommodation is appropriate and whether it will be effective in allowing you to perform the essential functions of your job.

7. What if I don’t know what type of workplace accommodation will be helpful to allow me to perform the essential functions of my job?

You should contact the Diversity and Access Office, which is available to provide consultation regarding workplace accommodations. In addition, the office can coordinate an ergonomic and/or assistive technology evaluation as needed. If the accommodation involves a leave, you should contact Disability & Family Leaves Support.

8. What if I request a facility-related accommodation, e.g. power-operated door?

Your supervisor or human resources manager will contact the Diversity and Access Office, which will facilitate and fund the requested facility-related accommodation.

9. What if my condition is not considered a disability under the ADA/FEHA?

Temporary disabilities, such as pregnancy, sprains or strains, etc, are not typically covered under the ADA/FEHA. While you may have a physical or mental impairment that may not be covered under the ADA/FEHA, you could be protected under a variety of state or federal provisions (such as the Family Leave laws or Worker's Compensation insurance). If your supervisor or human resources manager determines the condition is not covered by the ADA/FEHA, they will continue to evaluate whether the requested workplace accommodation is covered under other laws or is operationally feasible given the needs of the department or program.

10. Who will receive information about my health condition and/or my request for a workplace accommodation?

Information regarding your workplace accommodation and/or physical/mental limitations will be provided on a need-to-know basis. As a general rule, your human resources manager will work closely with your supervisor to evaluate a workplace accommodation. In some cases, first aid or safety personnel may be informed of your physical/mental limitations if necessary to provide emergency medical treatment or special evacuation assistance.

11. Where is my disability-related information kept?

Disability-related information, including medical documentation, is treated as confidential and access is limited to protect your privacy. Requests for workplace accommodations and accompanying documentation are kept separate from your local personnel file.

12. Where can I obtain more information about Stanford's policy and procedure related to the ADA/FEHA and workplace accommodations?

Human Resources Offices:
-Campus: (650) 721-4272
-School of Medicine: (650) 736-6924
-SLAC: (650) 926-2358

Diversity and Access Office (ADA/Section 504 Compliance Office):
Voice: (650) 723-0755
TTY: (650) 723-1216
disability.access@stanford.edu
Visit D&A website

Administrative Guide:
2.2.7 Requesting Workplace Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities