From a supervisors perspective, there are many considerations that may arise related to ADA accommodations. The following information pertains to confidentiality, changes in behavior and performance, discipline, and serving the needs of bargained-for or union faculty and staff.
Accommodation Requests That Arise During Discipline Processes
Sometimes, faculty or staff may disclose that they have a disability during the discipline process and explain that any performance or conduct issues being addressed through the discipline process stem directly from that disability. In these circumstances, supervisors, managers, and HR representatives should engage in the interactive process to identify any accommodations that might help address the conduct or performance at issue in the discipline process.
It is important to note that accommodations under the ADA are proactive and not retroactive. In other words, accommodations need only be provided to the faculty or staff member as they continue with their employment. It is typically not considered a reasonable accommodation that the university go back and remove or modify any discipline or other actions that have been taken prior to the individual disclosing the disability.
Under the ADA, the university may still hold faculty and staff to any performance or conduct standards, so long as those standards are job-related, consistent with business necessity, and are applied equally to all other employees. In other words, if a faculty or staff member has performance or conduct problems and the problems were caused by the individual’s disability, the university may still discipline the faculty or staff member as they would with any other individual under similar circumstances.
Bargained-for or Union Employees
The university employs many individuals who are represented by various labor organizations and have specific rights under collective bargaining agreements. These individuals perform various and critical functions across the Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn campuses as well as Michigan Medicine. It is important to be aware of an individual’s union status when engaging in the interactive process because union contracts and collective bargaining agreements may impact what accommodations can or cannot be provided.
Typically, the ADA does not require the university to provide an accommodation that will violate a union contract or collective bargaining agreement. For example, if a staff member requests an accommodation that would modify their work schedule and a collective bargaining agreement requires a certain level of seniority before the staff member can have that specific schedule, then the university is encouraged to explore alternative accommodations to provide to the staff member rather than violating the union contract.
In addition, some union contracts or collective bargaining agreements mandate that certain accommodation processes be followed. Others may include certain types of accommodations that must be considered or provided to covered employees.
Supervisors and managers are encouraged to contact their HR representatives upon receiving a request for accommodation(s) to ensure that any union contract or collective bargaining agreement provisions are considered and followed.
You Do Not Need to Have All of the Answers
As a supervisor or manager, you will be required to engage in the interactive process with your employees; however, you do not need to have all of the answers during these conversations. In addition to the ADA Coordinator and you HR representative, there are resources available to help guide you through the interactive process and answer any questions that you might have.
If you have questions about any aspect of the ADA as it pertains to UM, including (but not limited to) the interactive process, how to answer an employee’s questions, or how to determine whether an accommodation is reasonable, email the ADA Coordinator or call the Office for Institutional Equity at (734) 763-0235.