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The following are scenarios in which a manager may have questions about her/his responsibilities with regard to an employee with a disability.

An employee discloses a disability and/or requests a reasonable accommodation

In this case, it is recommended that the manager:

1) inform the employee that there is a process by which reasonable accommodations are determined, and
2) relay that NC State has an ADA coordinator responsible for facilitating the interactive accommodations process.

Not all accommodation requests need to be processed as disability-based accommodations. If an employee is requesting a modification to the work environment that would be provided regardless of disability status, then the manager should make the modification without the interactive process. For example, one employee (with no disclosed disabilities) requests and is provided a reduced-glare computer monitor because she is having difficulty reading her screen. If another employee requests a reduced-glare monitor, and this employee says the monitor is needed due to his vision impairment, the monitor should be provided without going through the interactive process. In other words, the manager should not treat the second employee differently (requiring the interactive process) just because he disclosed a disability. On the other hand, if the monitor had not been provided to the first employee because it was too expensive, then it would be appropriate to engage in the interactive process to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodations are available for the second employee’s vision impairment.

At any point, the supervisor or manager is welcome to contact the ADA coordinator with questions.

A manager suspects that an employee may benefit from disability-based accommodations

If a manager suspects that an employee may benefit from disability-based accommodations, but for one reason or another, the employee has not initiated the accommodations process, it is important for the manager not to assume that the employee has a disability (or regard the employee as having a disability) and/or treat the employee as such, but instead, to seek assistance from the ADA coordinator and Human Resources.

An employee discloses a medical condition and/or provides a note from a physician (with or without listed workplace restrictions)

If it is unclear what an employee is requesting when disclosing a medical condition or providing a manager with a doctor’s note (and in some cases, the employee may not even be sure of what s/he is entitled to or asking for when providing the information), a manager should acknowledge receipt of the information and provide the employee with options. It is important that a manager not assume an employee has a disability because a medical condition has been disclosed, but disability-related options should be provided in case the employee is eligible under the ADA.

It is recommended that a manager respond with language similar to, “Thank you for this information. I will contact Human Resources to assist me with processing this information. Although I am not making any assumptions, it is possible that you have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. You are welcome to contact the ADA coordinator if you believe it would benefit you to do so.”

Managers may contact the ADA coordinator, Leave Administration. Benefits and/or Employee Relations. The manager is always welcome to contact the ADA coordinator with questions.