Minnesota Department of Corrections

 

Policy:                         103.310                                   Title: Reasonable Accommodation

Issue Date:                 5/19/15

Effective Date:           5/19/15

 

AUTHORITY:          The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 as amended

The Minnesota Human Rights Act

 

PURPOSE:    To reasonably accommodate qualified individuals (as defined by ADA) with known physical or mental disabilities, to enable them to compete in the selection process or to perform the essential functions of the job and/or enjoy equal benefits and privileges.

 

APPLICABILITY:  All qualified applicants, current employees, and employees seeking promotion who have a physical, sensory, or mental impairment that substantially or materially limits one or more major life activity.

 

POLICY:       Consistent with federal and state statutes, the department must reasonably accommodate qualified applicants and employees.  An accommodation must provide an opportunity for a person with a disability to achieve the same level of performance or to enjoy benefits or privileges equal to those of an average, similarly situated employee without a disability.

 

The department provides funding for accommodations unless the accommodation will cause an undue hardship or pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others in the workplace.

 

The facility and field services coordinators provide aggregate information to the DOC and ADA coordinator annually.  This information is reported to the Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) in the ADA annual report.

 

DEFINITIONS:

Direct threat - a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.

 

Reasonable accommodation - any change or adjustment to a job, an employment practice, or a work environment that makes it possible for a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities.  Examples of accommodations may include acquiring or modifying equipment or devices, modifying examinations and training materials, making facilities readily accessible, job restructuring, modifying work schedules, providing qualified readers or interpreters and reassignment to vacant positions.

 

Undue hardship - an action that is unduly costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature, position, or operation of the department.

 

PROCEDURES:

A.        Job applicant

1.         When an applicant requests a reasonable accommodation for the selection process, human resource management (HRM) must consider the request and discuss the possible alternatives with the applicant.

 

2.         HRM makes a decision regarding the request for accommodation and, if the accommodation is approved, must take the necessary steps to ensure the accommodation is provided.

 

3.         If the accommodation cannot be provided, HRM must inform the applicant in an accessible format of the reason within a reasonable time period.

 

B.        Employees

1.         The employee must inform his/her supervisor, manager, or ADA coordinator of the need for an accommodation, preferably by completing the Employee Request for Reasonable Accommodation form (attached).  Facility/field service ADA coordinators must review and maintain all documentation (separate from the employee personnel file) on all requests for reasonable accommodations and accommodation agreements made at their site, and provide the aggregate information to the DOC ADA coordinator annually.

 

2.         The regional human resources director (RHRD) must serve as the regional ADA coordinator.  The office of diversity provides consultation and assistance to the RHRD.

 

3.         The ADA coordinator may not request medical information in support of every accommodation request, but may require reasonable information/documentation where the disability and/or need for accommodation is not obvious or otherwise known.  The ADA coordinator may then only seek documentation which is reasonably necessary to establish that the employee/requester is an individual with a disability and needs the accommodation requested.  Medical information and inquiries must be kept apart from the general personnel files as a separate, confidential medical record, available only under the limited conditions specified in the ADA and other applicable laws.

 

4.         The ADA coordinator, without unreasonable delay and without waiting for documentation if it was requested, in consultation with the employee and supervisor, and other individuals who may need to be involved must:

a)         Discuss the purpose and essential functions of the particular job involved and complete a step-by-step job analysis;

b)         Determine the precise job-related functional limitations;

c)         Identify the potential accommodations and assess the effectiveness each would have in allowing the employee to perform the essential functions of the job; and

d)         After discussion and approval from management, select and implement the accommodations that are the most appropriate for both the employee and the employer using the Reasonable Accommodation Agreement (attached).  While an employee's preference must be given consideration, the department is free to choose among equally effective accommodations and may choose the one that is less expensive or easier to provide.

 

5.         If an accommodation agreement cannot be reached, the ADA coordinator must forward the request for accommodation, along with his/her recommendation, to the department assistant commissioner for operational support (assistant commissioner), who must review the request for accommodation, along with the recommendations, and advise regional management.

 

6.         If an accommodation cannot overcome the existing barriers, or if the accommodation would cause an undue hardship (see Procedure C of this policy) on the operation of the business or pose a direct threat (see Procedure D of this policy) to the requesting employee, the health or safety of the employee or others in the workplace, the employee and the supervisor, in consultation with the ADA coordinator and regional management, must work together to determine whether reassignment may be an appropriate accommodation.

a)         HRM must first look for a vacant position in the department equivalent to the one presently held by the employee in terms of pay and job status.  If the individual with the disability is not qualified, with or without reasonable accommodation, for a vacant position (or a position the department knows will become vacant within a reasonable period of time), the department may, as a reasonable accommodation, assign the employee to a lower grade vacant position for which the individual is qualified.  If this occurs, the department is not required to maintain the individual's salary at the previous level.

 

b)         HRM must help the employee identify transfer, mobility, noncompetitive and competitive opportunities (Minn. Stat. §43A.).

 

c)         The department is not required to create a new job or to bump another employee from a job in order to provide an accommodation.

 

7.         If a reasonable accommodation cannot be made, the ADA coordinator, with the assistant commissioner’s approval will provide the employee with written notification explaining the reason(s) for denying approval within a reasonable time period.

 

C.        Undue hardship:

1.         The manager of the office of diversity must discuss the requested accommodation with the assistant commissioner and/or deputy commissioner.

 

2.         They must determine if the request poses an undue hardship by considering the factors including, but not limited to:

a)         The nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, the financial resources, the nature and structure of the department's operation; and

b)         The impact of the accommodation on the nature or operation of the division.

 

Additional factors to consider when determining undue hardship are found in 42 U.S.C. § 126, 12111 (1990) and 29 C.F.R. 1630.2 (2010).

 

3.         If the accommodation is considered to impose an undue hardship, an analysis and recommendation must be sent to the commissioner.

 

4.         The commissioner must provide a written decision to the assistant commissioner or deputy commissioner, as applicable.  The employee requesting the accommodation must be immediately notified, in writing, of the final determination.  Facility/field service ADA coordinators must review and maintain all documentation (separate from the employee personnel file) on all requests for reasonable accommodations and accommodation agreements made at their site, and provide the aggregate information to the DOC ADA coordinator.

 

D.        Direct threat:

1.         Management must make an individualized determination of an individual's current ability to safely perform a job's essential functions.

 

2.         Determinations must be based on objective information and not on myths or stereotypes.

 

3.         The determinations must:

a)         Demonstrate there is a significant risk of substantial harm;

b)         Identify the specific risk;

c)         Demonstrate the risk is current, as opposed to speculative or remote;

d)         Support the risk assessment with objective medical evidence related to the particular employee; and

e)         Consider whether the risk can be eliminated or reduced below the level of a direct threat by reasonable accommodation.

 

E.         Statewide reporting: the DOC ADA coordinator reports all accommodation requests to MMB in the ADA annual report.

 

INTERNAL CONTROLS:

A.        Facility/field service ADA coordinators review and maintain all documentation on all requests for reasonable accommodation and accommodation agreements made at their site.

 

B.        The DOC ADA coordinator reports all accommodation requests to MMB in the ADA annual report.

 

REVIEW:      Annually

 

REFERENCES:       ACA Standards 2-CO-1C-01; 2-CO-1C-09; 4-4053; 4-4048; 4-APPFS-3E-02; 4-APPFS-3E-03

29 CFR 1630.2

Policy 103.240, “Return to Work Program”

Policy 103.300, “Anti-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment”

 

SUPERSESSION:    Policy 103.310, “Reasonable Accommodation,” 11/5/13.

All facility policies, memos, or other communications whether verbal, written, or transmitted by electronic means regarding this topic.

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Employee Request for Reasonable Accommodation (103.310A)

Authorization for Release of Medical Information ADA Request for Accommodation (103.310B)

Reasonable Accommodation Agreement (103.310D)

Provider Report/ADA Eligibility and Request for Accommodations (103.310C)

 

/s/

Deputy Commissioner, Facility Services

 

Deputy Commissioner, Community Services

 

This document is available in alternative formats to individuals with disabilities by calling

(651) 361-7256 (V) or (800) 627-3529 (TTY)