Policy Name: Reasonable Accommodation Decision Appeals
Policy ID Number: 01-05-008 (Interim)
Accountable Senior Administrator: Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and University Counsel
Issued: 10-25-21
Last Updated: 10-25-21

POLICY STATEMENT

The ADA makes provision for reasonable accommodation under certain circumstances. The Office of Human Resources has initial and primary responsibility for determining reasonable accommodation pursuant to an employee request under the ADA. 

REASON FOR POLICY

To provide for the administrative appeal of reasonable accommodation determinations.

DEFINITIONS

  • ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) – federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
  • Appeal – Review of reasonable accommodation determination initiated and filed by employee with the Chief Diversity Officer.
  • Disability – a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity.
  • Determination – decision of the Office of Human Resources concerning employee request for reasonable accommodation.
  • Interactive Process – the collaborative effort between an employer and an employee for information relevant and necessary for the Office of Human Resources to render a reasonable accommodation determination under the ADA.
  • Reasonable Accommodation – a change in the work environment made by the employer as required under the ADA to assist an individual with a disability in applying for a job, performing the duties of a job, or enjoying the benefits and privileges of employment

POLICY TEXT AND PROCEDURES

An employee who has requested a reasonable accommodation pursuant to the ADA is entitled to engage in the interactive process. At the conclusion of the interactive process, a determination will be issued by the Office of Human Resources relating to the employee’s request. The employee may file an appeal of any determination denying an accommodation request in full or in part. 

General dissatisfaction with an accommodation determination is not grounds for an appeal. An appeal from an accommodation determination must be based on one or more of the following grounds:

  1. There was a procedural error made during the accommodation review process that substantially impacted the outcome of the decision (e.g., the employee was not provided with an opportunity to participate in an interactive process).
  2. There was a substantive error (e.g. a misunderstanding of the employee’s reasonable accommodation request, misunderstanding the degree in which the employee’s disability interferes with a major life activity) made during the interactive process that substantially impacted the outcome of the decision. The employee must demonstrate in the filing of the appeal that the employee attempted to address the error(s) during the interactive process.

The employee has the burden of demonstration that a reasonable accommodation determination is not supported by the record or is in violation of ADA regulatory requirements. 

The appeal will involve a review of the record on file with the Office of Human Resources and review of the written reasons for the appeal provided by the employee. Should the Chief Diversity Officer need clarification of any information in the record from either the Office of Human Resources or the employee, the Chief Diversity Officer will notify each of the clarification and permit comment by each concerning the clarification. During the appeal the Chief Diversity Officer will not consider any new information not previously supplied to the Office of Human Resources as a part of its reasonable accommodation determination. 

An appeal must be filed within 10 calendar days from the date of the determination rendered by the Office of Human Resources. Appeals filed after this timeframe will be denied as untimely filed. The determination of the Office of Human Resources in such instance becomes the final decision of the University concerning that particular accommodation request.

To file an appeal, please send the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer an email at ADA_Appeals@njcu.edu with the following items:

  1. A copy of the decision being appealed.
  2. A written statement in support of the appeal, setting forth:
    • The accommodation(s) that were originally requested (employee may attach original request), and
    • An explanation of why the employee believes that a procedural error, and/or substantive error impacted the decision regarding the accommodation. The explanation must clearly indicate which of these reasons is the basis for the appeal. If an appeal is being submitted based on substantive error, please provide evidence of all attempts to resolve the issue. 
  3. All documentation supporting the written statement
  4. All documentation provided to the Office of Human Resources during the interactive process

A decision on an appeal will be issued within 30 calendar days from the date the appeal is received. While an appeal is pending, employees are expected to fulfill job responsibilities and to continue working as they did during the consideration of the original reasonable accommodation request. 

The decision on an appeal will either affirm or modify the Office of Human Resources determination or remand the matter to the Office of Human Resources. A remand may be warranted where an employee wants to have new information considered that was not previously available nor previously supplied to the Office of Human Resources during its consideration of the original request for reasonable accommodation. In such circumstances, the employee has the responsibility to demonstrate that the new information was not previously available while the reasonable accommodation request was pending. If a determination is modified and results in a reasonable accommodation disposition, the Office of Human Resources, the employee, and the employee’s supervisor(s) will be notified and the accommodation will be implemented immediately. The decision on an appeal represents the University’s final decision.  There is no further right of appeal within the University. 

RESPONSIBILITY

  • Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office
  • University Counsel

CONTACT FOR QUESTIONS

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
ADA_Appeals@njcu.edu