Americans with Disabilities Act Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What resources are available for funding to pay for the accommodation?
A: Funding for accommodations is handled in the same fashion as any other departmental expenditure, especially when it involves items departments normally supply. For example: due to a back injury Mary needs a different desk, chair and keyboard to supply an ergonomically conscious workspace. The department would pay for these items since they provide desks and chairs for all workers. Substantial physical or technological changes that require large costs may involve seeking additional funding through its regular administrative resources.

Q: Can I bring someone with me when I meet with the ADA Case Manager?
A: Employees may be accompanied by a union representative or other support person when they meet with the ADA Case Manager.

Q:What is the ADA?
A: The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12101), is a federal law which generally forbids disability-based discrimination in:

  • Employment (Title I);
  • Public Entities and Public transportation(Title II);
  • Public Accommodations (Title III); and
  • Telecommunications (Title IV).

Q: What does the ADA require?
A: The ADA expressly requires an employer to make “reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability,” UNLESS accommodation would cause “undue hardship” to the employer’s business.

Q: What is a reasonable accommodation?
A: A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment to a job, employment process or practice, or to the work environment that permits a qualified individual with a disability to participate in the application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy the benefits of employment in a manner equal to that enjoyed by other applicants or employees, provided that it does not present an undue hardship to the business or academic needs of the University. Determining a reasonable accommodation often requires balancing between the accommodations an employee desires to meet the job’s requirements, and the investment and modifications an employer has to make to accomplish the accommodations and requires consideration of essential job functions, business needs, employer’s resources, and collective bargaining considerations.

Q: Who is entitled to a reasonable accommodation?
A: The University provides reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental disabilities of otherwise qualified applicants and employees.

Q: What kinds of conditions are considered “disabilities”?
A: A disability under the ADA is generally understood to be a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Determination as to whether a person has a disability is always an individualized inquiry. Long-term, chronic conditions are usually considered disabilities, whereas temporary/transient conditions are generally not. Conditions subject to remission and flare-ups may be “disabilities” if they substantially limit a major life activity when active.

Q: Who is considered “otherwise qualified”?
A: An individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question is considered “otherwise qualified”.

Q: How quickly must I act once I am on notice that an employee may need accommodation?
A: The ADA does not prescribe a specific time frame within which reasonable accommodations must be provided; however, accommodations must be provided without undue delay. The amount of time necessary to provide an accommodation may depend on factors such as the nature of the accommodation, the complexity of the decision-making process (e.g., whether a disability is obvious or must be determined by reviewing medical documentation), and the difficulty of providing the accommodation (e.g., whether it involves a simple modification of a policy or the acquisition of equipment).

Q: I am employed at the University and I have a disability. Can I be fired from my job?
A: Yes, if the termination is based upon your job performance. Reasonable accommodations must be provided by the employer, absent undue hardship on the employer, which will enable you to perform the essential job functions. After that, it becomes purely a matter of whether or not the person with the disability is doing the job and performing at the level expected by the employer.

Q: How does HR address confidentiality?
A: Disability-related information is to be treated as medical information. For example, University faculty and staff do not have a right or a need to access diagnostic or other information regarding the disability of an employee or applicant; they only need to know what accommodations are necessary or appropriate to meet the individual’s disability-related needs. If an employee has requested an accommodation, the individual will be informed as to what information is being provided to the department or supervisor regarding the request. To protect confidentiality by assuring limited access, all disability-related information must be filed with appropriate offices and kept separate from any other files. Departments or individuals should not keep any copies of such documentation within departments or offices.

Q: As a supervisor what do I do if an employee talks to me about their medical/mental condition and that it is causing them difficulty at work?
A: A supervisor should refer the employee to the ADA Case Manager for assistance.

Q: Where should I go to discuss the reasonable accommodation process?
A: The appropriate ADA Compliance Unit depends on the status/identity of the requesting party.

Contact the ADA Case Manager at 860-486-2036 or by email at

Contact the Center for Students with Disabilities.