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Employee Request for Accommodations

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, unless to do so would cause undue hardship. In general, 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. 

Three categories of “reasonable accommodations” are:

  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.

When should an individual with a disability request a reasonable accommodation?

An individual with a disability may request a reasonable accommodation at any time during the application process or during the period of employment.

What must an employer do after receiving a request for reasonable accommodation?

The employer and the individual with a disability should engage in an informal process to clarify what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation. The employer may ask the individual relevant questions that will enable him or her to make an informed decision about the request. This includes asking what type of reasonable accommodation is needed.

May an employer ask an individual for documentation when the individual requests reasonable accommodation?

Yes. When the disability and/or the need for accommodation is not obvious, the employer may ask the individual for reasonable documentation about his/her disability and functional limitations.  The employer is entitled to know that the individual has a covered disability for which s/he needs a reasonable accommodation. An employer may require that the documentation about the disability and the functional limitations come from an appropriate health care or rehabilitation professional. In requesting documentation, employers should specify what types of information they are seeking regarding the disability, its functional limitations, and the need for reasonable accommodation. The individual can be asked to sign a limited release allowing the employer to submit a list of specific questions to the health care or vocational professional.

Is an employer required to provide the reasonable accommodation that the individual wants?

The employer may choose among reasonable accommodations as long as the chosen accommodation is effective. Thus, as part of the interactive process, the employer may offer alternative suggestions for reasonable accommodations and discuss their effectiveness in removing the workplace barrier that is impeding the individual with a disability.

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605 East Broad Street • Mansfield, Texas 76063 • (817) 299-6300
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