Human Resources

Accommodating Employees with Disabilities

Southwestern University is committed to providing reasonable workplace accommodations to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities who need such accommodations in order to avail of equal employment opportunities. The University complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and applicable state and local laws providing for nondiscrimination in employment against qualified individuals with disabilities

Key Definitions

  • A qualified individual is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability.
  • Workplace accommodations refers to any change to the work environment or in the way tasks/work are customarily carried out that enables a person with physical or mental limitations to perform the essential functions of their positions.
  • Essential functions are fundamental job duties or requirements of a position that an employee must be able to perform, with or without an accommodation.
  • Interactive process refers to discussions between the employee, the supervisor and the Associate Vice President, HR in which they strive to find reasonable accommodation options. The AVP, HR facilitates this process.


Qualified individuals with disabilities may make requests for workplace accommodations to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources.

The Associate Vice President, Human Resources will ask the requestor to provide medical certification that describes their functional limitations as they relate to the requestor’s job.

Each request for a workplace accommodation is assessed on a case-by-case base, through a collaborative and interactive process. The goal of the process is to understand the functional limitations caused by the disability and to remove barriers that may keep the employee from performing the essential functions and requirements of the job, if possible. In limited circumstances, requested accommodations may be denied on the basis that the accommodations are an “undue hardship” on the University. The determination of whether an accommodation creates an “undue hardship” is based upon a number of factors and is made by Human Resources on behalf of the University.

After the interactive process is complete, the Associate Vice President, Human Resources, will inform the employee and the supervisor, in writing, of the accommodations the University is able to offer. Accommodations that are granted shall be reviewed bi-annually, or more frequently if there is a change to the medical status of the employee​.

If the Associate Vice President, Human Resources becomes aware of an employee’s disability and believes the disability may be interfering with the employee’s work performance, the Assistant Director of Human Resources may initiate the interactive process.


Qualified individuals with disabilities are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner in the pre-employment process and employees with disabilities are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner in all terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Volunteering information about a disability will not subject an employee to any adverse treatment or penalty.


All information concerning disabilities is confidential and will be released only in accordance with the requirements of the ADA and other applicable laws. ​ Employees should not submit medical statements or information to their supervisor, and at no time will an employee be required to disclose the nature of their disability with their supervisor or with other colleagues.

Medical information provided as part of a request for an accommodation is confidential and is kept separately from other employee files. During the interactive process supervisors are not informed of the nature of an employee’s disability. Supervisors are informed only of the nature of the accommodation request to facilitate the interactive process.