Policies & Procedures


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Procedure 81: Reasonable Accommodation

Responsible Office: Human Resources
September 2022

A. References

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)

Personnel Policies for Staff Members

Personnel Procedures for UCI Staff Members

B. Authority and Responsibility

  1. All parties, including the supervisor, employee, and Disability Management
    Specialist are responsible for responding to reasonable requests for information
    in a timely manner and to meet and confer as needed. This may or may not
    include formal notification of a disability or medical condition which may require
    workplace modifications.

  2. The employee is responsible for providing medical documentation describing
    disability-related limitations.

  3. All parties, including the supervisor, employee, and Disability Management
    Specialist are responsible for engaging in the Interactive Process for determining
    reasonable accommodation.

  4. The supervisor defines the essential job functions and in consultation with the
    Disability Management Specialist discusses possible options. A reasonable
    accommodation is identified and implemented.

  5. The Disability Management Specialist provides reasonable accommodation and
    return-to-work services to all active UCI campus employees with work and non-
    work incurred injuries or illness.

  6. Per UCI’s transitional return to work program, if the home department cannot
    temporarily accommodate the employee’s temporary limitations, the Disability
    Management Specialist commences alternate job search to place the employee
    in a position in an alternate department as a temporary accommodation for up to
    90 days at the expense of the home department.

  7. In cases where a permanent accommodation cannot be provided with the home
    department and no reassignment opportunity has been identified, the Disability
    Management Specialist and Employment Recruiter collaborate with the
    employee regarding vacancies for which the employee meets the minimum
    qualifications for a vacant position of the same or lower range/grade. If employee
    meets the minimum qualifications of the job and is not offered the position, the
    hiring department head is required to document the reason(s) for non-selection.

C. Purpose

When a qualified individual with a mental or physical disability is, or becomes, unable
to perform the essential, assigned duties of the currently held position as a result of a
covered disability, UCI is committed to providing reasonable accommodation. UCI
will explore reasonable accommodation options when:

  • An employee requests accommodation or indicates a need for an
    accommodation due to a covered disability, or

  • When the need for reasonable accommodation is obvious.

Accommodation options will be considered in discussions with the employee. This is
an Interactive Process that requires the active participation of the employee and
their supervisor.

D. Definitions

E. Interactive Process and Accommodation Procedures

The interactive process will be initiated by the University when the employee
formally or informally requests an accommodation or the University otherwise has
reason to believe that the employee may need assistance in performing the
essential functions of the employee’s current position due to a disability. A request
for accommodation may be made orally or in writing by the employee or made by
someone on behalf of that employee.

The University will coordinate the interactive process. Participants in the process
include the employee and a manager, typically the employee's supervisor. Other
University representatives may include, but are not limited to, the location’s Disability
Management Specialist.

The employee and University representatives are expected to participate in the
interactive process in good faith. For the employee, that good faith obligation
includes promptly responding to the University’s reasonable requests for information
about the employee’s functional limitations, including requests for supporting
documentation from the employee’s health care providers.

The interactive process includes the following steps:

  1. Analyze the job requirements and identify essential and non-essential job functions. A job function may be considered essential for any of several reasons, including but not limited to:
    1. The function may be essential if the job exists to perform that function.
    2. The function may be essential because of the limited number of employees available to perform the function, or among whom the function can be distributed.

    3. The function may be highly specialized so that the employee in the position is hired or retained for the employee’s expertise or ability to perform the particular function.

  2. Identify the employee’s job-related functional limitations by consulting with the employee and by reviewing documentation related to the employee’s functional limitations.

    If the University requests information regarding the employee’s functional
    limitations, the University will provide a current job description and/or other
    documentation that outlines essential and non-essential job functions, which the
    health care provider can reference when evaluating the employee’s functional
    capabilities and limitations. The job description and/or other documentation may
    also enable the health care provider to suggest possible accommodations for the
    University to consider.

  3. Identify possible reasonable accommodations.

    A reasonable accommodation enables an employee to perform the essential
    functions of the job effectively. The University and the employee should work
    together to identify possible reasonable accommodations. The University will
    consider possible accommodations suggested by the employee in addition to
    those identified by the University. Examples include, but are not limited to:

    • Job restructuring (e.g. transfer of non-essential job functions to another

    • Ergonomic adjustments
    • Modification of work tools or equipment
    • Assistive devices
    • Modification of existing facilities;
    • Time off for medical visits
    • Modified work schedule; and
    • leaves of absence for treatment and/or recoverty

    When the interactive process has resulted in a determination that the employee
    with a disability cannot be reasonably accommodated in the current position
    absent undue hardship but the employee may be able to perform the essential
    functions of another University position, with or without reasonable
    accommodation, and the employee is interested in reassignment, the University
    will consider reassignment to a suitable vacant or soon to be vacant position.

  4. Assess whether the proposed accommodation poses an undue hardship.

    The University need not provide a requested accommodation if doing so would
    pose an undue hardship. This determination is made on a case-by-case basis.
    An undue hardship is defined as any action requiring significant difficulty or
    expense, taking into account such factors as: the nature and cost of the
    accommodation, the impact the proposed accommodation would have on
    operations, and the overall financial resources of the location.

  5. Implement the reasonable accommodation.

    When the reasonable accommodation is implemented, the employee and
    supervisor (and co-workers, where appropriate) should become fully familiar with
    any changes in their roles and responsibilities so that the accommodation plan
    may be fully realized.

  6. Monitor effectiveness of the reasonable accommodation and continue the
    interactive process as necessary.

    Any changes in circumstances may warrant a continuation of the interactive
    process so that the employee and the University can reevaluate the reasonable
    accommodation and determine whether any changes are needed. For example, if
    the employee’s functional limitations change or the reasonable accommodation is
    not effective or becomes ineffective, the employee should promptly advise their
    supervisor so that the interactive process can be continued.

  7. Document the process and accommodation.

    A written record should be kept of the interactive process and any accommodation
    that is considered and/or implemented. Such documentation shall be retained
    apart from the employee personnel file.

F. Undue Hardship

The department head, in consultation with the Disability Management Specialist, will
evaluate whether the requested accommodations constitute undue hardship and will
consider the following points in making a determination:

  • The nature and cost of the accommodation.
  • The overall financial resources of the department, the number of employees in the department, and the effect on expenses and resources of the facility.
  • The type of operation of the employer, including the composition, structure, and functions of the workforce, the geographic separateness, and the administrative or fiscal relationship to the larger entity of the facility involved in making the accommodation.
  • The impact of the accommodation on the operation of the unit that is making the accommodation, including the ability of other employees to perform their duties.
  • If undue hardship applies, see Procedure 66, Medical Separation.

G. Reassignment

The University will pursue reassignment when (1) the interactive process has
resulted in a determination that there is no reasonable accommodation that would
enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the employee’s current
position absent undue hardship; (2) the employee may be able to perform the
essential functions of another University position, with or without reasonable
accommodation; and (3) the employee is interested in reassignment. An alternate
job search will be conducted to identify a suitable vacant or soon to be vacant

An alternate position is suitable if the employee possesses the requisite
qualifications for the position (e.g., required skills, knowledge, abilities, experience,
education, license, certificate) and can perform the essential functions of the position
with or without reasonable accommodation. When a suitable position has been
identified, the employee will be given preferential consideration for that position. An
employee may be reassigned to a suitable position as a reasonable accommodation
even if the position has not yet been publicized, per Personnel Policies for Staff
Members (PPSM) 20.B.3 (see Staff Policy 20.B.3. Exceptions to Recruitment).

When conducting the alternate job search, vacant positions that would be
considered lateral to the employee’s current position will first be considered. All
aspects of a vacant position will be considered when assessing whether it is lateral
to the employee’s current position. Notwithstanding the definition of “promotion” in
PPSM 2 (Definition of Terms), for purposes of this policy, if an employee’s salary
could remain the same in the alternate position, the fact that the salary range of the
alternate position has a higher maximum than the salary range of the employee’s
current position will not, standing alone, mean that reassignment to that position
would be a promotion rather than a lateral move. If there are no suitable lateral
positions, the possibility of reassignment to a lower position will be explored.

H. Applicability

All staff members. Employees who are in a bargaining unit that has an exclusive
representative (union) are covered by the applicable provisions of the collective
bargaining agreement.