The Affirmative Action Office is responsible for overseeing compliance of a wide variety of federal/state laws and university policies that involve equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities and accessibility to programs and activities. The Office of Affirmative Action works with all members of the Northern Arizona University community to ensure that the University is meeting the letter and spirit of its legal obligations in the areas of affirmative action, equal opportunity and nondiscrimination, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Functions of the Office of Affirmative Action include:
- Assisting employees and prospective employees and their departments with the reasonable accommodation process under the ADA and:
- Working with the university community on accessibility issues relating to buildings, programs and activities.
The Affirmative Action Office is currently located in Old Main (Building 10), Room 113, on north campus. Please call (928) 523-3312 if you have questions or concerns regarding any policies, procedures, or issues related to discrimination or harassment prohibited by University policy, complaint resolution, ADA accommodation or accessibility, the Affirmative Action Plan or affirmative action/equal opportunity obligations in connection with searches.
NAU Personnel Policy Manual, Policy 1.02, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) PDF
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- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law effective July 26, 1992, established a clear, comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities. Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which also prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities, also apply to the university. Pursuant to those laws, the university prohibits discrimination and provides equal access to persons with disabilities in admissions, employment, educational programs and activities, and public programs and activities.
- With respect to employment, the university prohibits discrimination against a qualified individual with a disability in regard to hiring, compensation, advancement, training, and other terms or conditions of employment. The university provides reasonable accommodation for the known physical or mental limitations of qualified applicants or employees with a disability, unless the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the university. In determining whether and what type of reasonable accommodation may be appropriate, supervisors shall notify the Affirmative Action Office or the Human Resources Department for assistance.
- Office of the Disability Employment Services (U.S. Department of Labor)
- Guidelines for building accessible web pages
- Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
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- Arizona University Center on Disabilities
- NAU Student Affairs
- NAU Capital Assets and Services
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Guide to Accommodation Process for Employees with Disabilities
The Affirmative Action office works with employees who believe they may be entitled to reasonable accommodation in the workplace because of a disability. When an accommodation is requested, the office engages the employee and their supervisor, on a need to know basis, in an interactive process which is guided by the following checklists and definitions.
Checklists for Handling ADA Issues
The following checklists were condensed from those created by David K. Fram, Esq. of the National Employment Law Institute. They highlight important questions and assist in gathering information on a variety of ADA issues. These checklists are intended to serve as a summary guide to the process which the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity follows when handling a request for accommodation under the ADA. The checklists are not legal advice and are not intended to show the full process or all issues involved in determining a request for accommodation.
These checklists are provided on NAU's Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity website as an informational tool for university employees who may have questions or concerns regarding ADA issues. Please print the PDF files to complete and turn in.
This is copyrighted material of the National Employment Law Institute (NELI), and David K. Fram, Esq., the author. Any further reproduction rights must be obtained from NELI and more extensive materials are available through NELI at their website, www.neli.org, or by calling the Institute at 303.861.5600.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability against any "qualified individual with a disability." 42 U.S.C. § 12112(a).
In order to qualify for coverage under Titles I and II, an individual must show that he has a "disability," as that term is defined by the ADA, and that he is "qualified." 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2).
- Disability Defined
- "Disability is defined under the ADA as:
- a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;
- a record of such and impairment; or
- being regarded as having such an impairment.
Major Life Activity
- A "physical impairment" is a physiological disorder, or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitor-urinary, hemic and lymphatic, skin and endocrine.
- A "mental impairment" is any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(h).
- To qualify for coverage, an individual's impairment must substantially limit at least one major life activity. 42 U.S.C. § 12101(2). Major life activities are functions auch as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(i).
- An individual meets the requirement of being substantially limited by an impairment if that person is either completely unable to perform at least one basic activity that the "average" person can perform, or if the ability to do so is "significantly restricted." 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(1).
- With respect to the issue of whether one's impairment substantially limits his ability to work, the term "substantially limits" means the impairment significantly restricts the ability to perform either a class of jobs or a broad range of jobs in various classes as compared to the average person having comparable training, skills and abilities. The inability to perform a single, particular job does not constitute a substantial limitation in the major life activity of working. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(j)(3)(i).
- Essential Functions
- A job's essential functions are its fundamental job duties, as opposed to its marginal functions. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(n)(I). Among other reasons, a particular job function may be essential because the position exists to perform the function, because performance of the function can be distributed among only a limited number of employees, or because the function is so highly specialized that the incumbent in the position was hired for his special expertise or ability to perform the function. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(n)(2). The following factors are relevant in determining whether a particular job function is essential:
Employers are free under the ADA both to establish and to alter the essential functions of a particular position; the statute does not interfere with the ability of employers to exercise business judgment with regard to job requirements. 29 C.F.R. §1630.2(n); EEOC Technical Assistance Manual at 2.3(a).
- the employer's judgment; Johnston v. Morrison, Inc., S49 F. Supp. 777(N.D.Ala. 1994).
- written job descriptions that were prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for a job;
- the amount of time actually spent performing the function;
- the consequences of not requiring performance of the function;
- the work experience of current workers in similar positions; 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(n)(3).
- nature of the work operation;
- employer's organization structure. EEOC Technical Assistance Manual at 2.3(a).
- Determining whether an individual is qualified involves ascertaining whether he can perform essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodation. 42U.S.C. § 12111(g). Title I requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified applicants and employees, unless to do so would impose an undue hardship. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(b)(5)(A). [A claim fails if it is not shown that the employer had knowledge of the employee's alleged disability at the time of the adverse employment action. Carlson v. Inacom. Corp.,
- 885 F. Supp. 1314 (ED. Pa. 1995); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co. Inc., 1994 WL 228184 (S.D. Ind. 1994)]. It means modifications or adjustments to the manner in which the job is usually performed, that enable a qualified individualwith a disability to perform the position's essential functions. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(o)(1)(ii).
- A covered entity need not provide an accommodation that would impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of its business. 42 U.S.C. § 12112(5)(A).
- "Undue hardship" is an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, in light of the following factors:
42 U.S.C. § 12111(10)(B), 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(p)(2)(v).
The concept of "undue hardship" encompasses more than financial difficulty; it refers to any accommodation that would be unduly costly, extensive, substantial or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature of a covered entity's business. 29 C.F.R. § 1630.2(P) app.
- the nature and cost of the accommodation;
- the overall financial resources of the facility or facilities involved in the provision of the accommodation; the number of employees at the facility; the effect on expenses or resources, or the impact otherwise that the provision of the accommodation would have on the facility;
- the overall financial resources of the covered entity; the overall size of the business of the covered entity with respect to number of employees; and the number, type and location of its facilities;
- the type of operation or operations of the covered entity, including the composition, structure and functions of its workforce; and the geographic separateness, administrative or fiscal relationshipof the facility or facilities in question to the covered entity; and
- the impact that the accommodation would have on the operation of the facility, including its impact on the ability of other workers to perform their duties and its impact on the facility's ability to do business.
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Universal Design Resources
While accessible design attempts to address barriers in program/physical access policy, universal design promotes a diverse design scheme to benefit as many users as possible. NAU's Disability Support Services' web page provides various links to resources for anyone interested in the concepts and procedures of universal and accessible design.
NAU Disability Support Services, Resources on Universal Design
Additional websites that may be useful to anyone interested in the principles and elements of universal design are listed below.
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