Employment Accommodations Program

Frequently Asked Questions: Employees

What kinds of conditions are considered a disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities including but are not limited to walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, or taking care of oneself.
Major life activities also include major bodily functions, which include but are not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

What is a “qualified person” with a disability?

A qualified person with a disability is someone who satisfies the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements for the position and who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. 

What is an essential function of a job?

Essential job functions are the primary duties that an employee must perform with or without a reasonable accommodation. A duty is considered an Essential Function if one of the following is true:

    1. The position exists to perform the duty. For example:
      • An administrative assistant’s job includes but is not limited to opening and closing the office and greeting and responding to inquiries made by customers who come to the office. Because opening and closing the office and taking care of walk-in customer inquiries requires an on-site presence, being on-site is an essential function of the job.
      • A “floating” supervisor is hired to substitute when regular supervisors on the day, night, and graveyard shifts are absent.  The only reason this position exists is to have someone who can work on any of the three shifts in place of an absent supervisor.  Therefore, the ability to work at any time of day is an essential function of the job.
    2. There are a limited number of employees who can perform the duty, or among whom the duty can be distributed.  This may be a factor when there are only a few other employees, or because of fluctuating demands of a business operation.
    3. The duty is a highly specialized duty.  For example:
      • The position requires proficiency in a second language therefore that proficiency is an essential job function.
      • The position requires a state-held license in a specific field. Being able to attain that license at the point of hire or within a reasonable and stated time frame is an essential job duty.

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is any change or modification to the hiring process, a job, the work environment, or the way things are usually done that enables a qualified individual with a disability to apply for a job, perform the essential functions of a job, and enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those without disabilities, without causing significant difficulty or disruption in the workplace or posing a health or safety threat.

What is the interactive process?

The interactive process is an engaged and collaborative process that includes the employee and the Employment Accommodations Coordinator who consults with the employing unit/supervisor and others, as appropriate, to identify barriers that impact the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of a particular job with the intention of finding a reasonable accommodation. Typically, the interactive process includes a review of the individual’s abilities and limitations based on discussion with the individual and the provided disability documentation, an analysis of the essential job functions, an analysis of the work duties or job tasks that may pose a difficulty, and what reasonable accommodations might permit the employee to successfully perform those duties or tasks. 

What kinds of accommodations can I receive?

A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment to a job, work environment or work policy/practice that would help a person with a disability:

    • Apply for a job
    • Perform job duties
    • Enjoy benefits and privileges of employment  

Accommodations can include, but are not limited to:

    • Assistive technology or devices
    • Environmental modifications or alterations
    • Adjusted work arrangements or schedules
    • Adjustments to workplace policies
    • Job restructuring (for marginal duties)

Accommodations that pose an undue hardship to the College, reduce work quality or standards, or eliminate essential job functions are not considered reasonable under the law.

How do I make a request for a reasonable accommodation?

To request a reasonable accommodation, contact:

Linda Sullivan, ADA/504 Coordinator
Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity (IDE)
Telephone: 603.646.3920
Email: linda.m.sullivan@dartmouth.edu

Upon receipt of your request and appropriate documentation of the disabling condition, the Employment Accommodations Coordinator will engage with you in an interactive process designed to understand your needs and identify and implement any accommodations that would be reasonable and effective.

I recently received a poor performance review. I have not disclosed my condition, but I think it is a factor in my performance review. How should I proceed?

Contact the Employment Accommodations Coordinator to begin the accommodation process. Be aware, however, that the ADA does not obligate employers to tolerate or excuse the poor performance or withhold or pause disciplinary action (including termination) warranted by the poor performance. Employers should apply performance standards uniformly and consistently to all employees, including employees with disabilities. 

Should I share my doctor’s note or other information about my condition with my manager?

You are not required to nor should you share your documentation with your manager.  This information should only be shared with the Employment Accommodations Coordinator if you would like an adjustment or change concerning some aspect of your job or a benefit of employment for a reason related to a medical, sensory, or mental health condition.

Who will receive information about my disability?

Information provided as part of the accommodation process will be maintained confidentially in accordance with the law.

Although the Employment Accommodations Coordinator will not share your diagnosis or any details related to your treatment, information regarding your request may be shared with appropriate individuals familiar with an employee’s work responsibilities or workplace policies to identify essential job functions and implement a reasonable workplace accommodation. The disclosed information will be no more than is necessary to process the request and recipients will be informed about confidentiality requirements.

Your disability and accommodations are confidential; therefore, your manager or supervisor may not disclose this information to co-workers and staff.
If you choose to discuss your disability or accommodations with co-workers and staff, your manager or supervisor’s ability to maintain confidentiality is compromised. 

If you transfer, are promoted, or are reinstated to a position in a different division or unit, information about your disability or any accommodations will not be forwarded to your new supervisor. Therefore, if you need accommodations in the new position, please contact the Employment Accommodations Coordinator to re-engage the interactive process.

Where is my information stored?

All records, history, or information provided by you or your health care provider as part of the accommodation process will be maintained by the Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity. It is not part of your personnel file. Any records related to your disability will be treated as confidential and access is limited to protect your privacy.

How do I request an ergonomic assessment?

Office workstation ergonomics addresses the fit between the person, the task, and the environment to help prevent injury, optimize productivity, and promote safety and health.  Although it may be helpful in addressing limitations posed by a disability, this assessment is not considered a disability accommodation and  does not need to go through the interactive process within IDE. To request an ergonomic assessment of your workplace, contact:
Molly Rhoad 
Department of Environmental Health and Safety
Telephone: 603.646.1762
Email: Molly.O.Rhoad@dartmouth.edu


Some FAQ content used here was adapted from the US Employment Equal Opportunity Commission, the Job Accommodation Network, Yale University Accommodation Program for Faculty and Staff, and UW-Madison Employee Disability Resources