This policy establishes guidelines regarding reasonable accommodation to enable qualified Santa Fe Community College (SFCC or College) employees with disabilities to function successfully at work.
Scope and Applicability
This policy applies to all employees.
This policy adheres to the requirements set forth in the American with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA). The ADA is a federal law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of life, including employment. The purpose of the law is to ensure people with disabilities are afforded the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. Under Title I of the ADA, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees, as long as the accommodation does not cause an undue hardship on the College. The ADA is regulated and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
SFCC provides reasonable accommodation to employees with disabilities, unless the only available accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the College. The College does not discriminate against persons with real or perceived disabilities (SFCC Policy 4-9 Discrimination and Harassment).
- Alternate Placement Is the attempt to place a qualified employee with a disability in another position at the College. Alternate placement is attempted only if the Office of Human Resources and the employee’s supervisory chain to the Vice President level determines that no reasonable accommodation can be made to enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the current position.
- Direct Threat Is a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the employee or others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable accommodation.
- Employee is any member of the college workforce: all staff (regular full-time, regular part-time, term, temporary, probationary, sensitive position); all student employees; all faculty (full-time, part-time, adjunct, probationary); all administrators, including interim; all contract employees.
- Employee with a Disability or Impairment as defined at NMSA 1978, Section 28-1-2(M) or the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12102, is an employee who: A.) Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (for example, the ability to communicate or to move about); B.) Has a record of such an impairment; or C.) Is regarded as having such an impairment by supervisors or managers, whether or not an impairment actually exists. (They may be an employee who has recovered from a disability but who is still thought of as having the disability or is stigmatized because of having had the disability, or who has been misclassified as having a disability that they did not actually have.)
- Essential Job Functions are those tasks that are fundamental job duties of the held or desired employment position, as opposed to marginal incidental tasks not related or peripheral to the specific position.
- Health Care Provider Provider of services as defined in the ss act, of medical or health services
- Health Care Provider Certificate Is the certification of a serious health condition issued by a Health Care Provider on the approved form.
- Interactive Process is the interaction between the Employee with a Disability or Impairment and their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources throughout the entirety of the accommodation process, including the steps involved in the determination of an accommodation and the steps necessary to implement accommodations, if such are necessary, and is initiated as soon as an Employee with a Disability or Impairment communicates a request or need for accommodation to their supervisor or the Office of Human Resources or when a supervisor recognizes a need for an accommodation as a result of employee performance.
- Major Life Activites Include, but are not limited to: A.) Caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working; B.) The operation of a major bodily function, including functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin; normal cell growth; and digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions. The operation of a major bodily function includes the operation of an individual organ within a body system.
- Qualified Employee Is an individual who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the job in question.
- Reasonable Accommodation Accommodation is modification to the work environment or responsibilities to enable a qualified employee with a disability or impairment to perform the essential functions of a specific position. Reasonable accommodation should not impose an undue hardship on College operations or create a direct threat to the health or safety of the employee or others. The determination of reasonable accommodation should be made after an interactive process between the employee and the College. Reasonable accommodation may include, but is not limited to: a. Making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; b. Job restructuring; part-time or modified work schedules; reassignment to a vacant position; acquisition or modifications of equipment or devices; appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials, or policies; the provision of qualified readers or interpreters; and other similar accommodation for individuals with disabilities.
- Undue hardship With respect to the provision of accommodation means significant difficulty or expense incurred by a covered entity, when considered in light of the factors set forth in this section. Factors to be considered in determining whether accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the College, include: A.) The nature and net cost of the accommodation needed, taking into consideration the availability of tax credits and deductions, and/or outside funding; B.) The overall financial resources involved in the provision of reasonable accommodation, the number of persons employed at such facility, and the effect on expenses and resources; C.) The overall financial resources of the College, the overall size of the College’s operations with respect to the number of its employees, and the number, type and location of its facilities; D.) The type of operation or operations of the College, including the composition, structure and functions of the College’s workforce, and the geographic separateness and administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities in question to the College; E.) The impact of accommodation upon the operation of the facility, including the impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and the impact on the facility’s ability to conduct business.
- Work Restrictions Are job activities that a licensed health care provider has determined the employee with a disability cannot perform because of a physical or mental impairment.
- Employee Responsibilities
- Employees may seek a reasonable accommodation, formally or informally, which means the request may be in writing or made orally. No “magic words” are needed to make an accommodation request.
- Employees shall notify their supervisors or the Office of Human Resources, when they have physical or mental conditions that may adversely impact their job performance or their health or safety or that of others. Doing so initiates the interactive process.
- Employees shall cooperate with the Office of Human Resources to provide appropriate medical or psychological certification, and other relevant information as needed as the College and employee work through the interactive process (SFCC 4-16 Employee Accessibility Procedures).
- The employee must provide the Office of Human Resources with requested health care provider certification and other relevant information in a timely manner.
- The employee shall cooperate with supervisors and others as the College attempts to make reasonable accommodation or to develop an alternate placement.
- Validity of Health Care Provider Certificate.
- If the College has reason to doubt the validity or adequacy of the health care provider certificate provided by the employee, the College may direct the employee to obtain supplemental information from the employee’s provider.
- Alternatively, the College may, at the College’s expense, request that the employee obtain the opinion of a second health care provider designated or approved by the College to certify the need for the requested leave.
- The designated or approved health care provider shall not be an individual employed on a regular basis by the College.
- If the second opinion materially differs from that provided in the original health care provider certificate, the College may require that the employee obtain, at the College’s expense, the opinion of a third health care provider, designated or approved jointly by the College and the employee.
- The opinion of the third health care provider will be final and binding on the College and the employee.
- The College may require that employees obtain and submit a recertification form upon request for extension of the leave and in case of substantial change of circumstances.
- The Office of Human Resources will notify the employee if another health care provider certificate is required.
- The employee must furnish the recertification within 15 calendar days after the College’s request, unless it is not practicable to do so. If an employer requires an employee to go to a health professional of the employer’s choice, the employer must pay all costs associated with the visit(s). Otherwise, the cost falls on employee.
- The health care provider recertification will be at the employee’s expense.
- Supervisor Responsibilities
- If a supervisor recognizes that their employee is struggling with performance, the supervisor is encouraged to verbalize a general offer of support to the employee.
- Supervisors may not initiate any discussion with employees that directly addresses whether or how their health conditions might affect their performance.
- If an employee self-discloses their condition, the supervisor must consult the Office of Human Resources immediately to begin a discussion of appropriate accommodation.
- Supervisors must consult with the Office of Human Resources as soon as they become aware that an employee’s behavior or job performance has been adversely affected and that the possible cause is a physical or mental condition.
- Supervisors may require employees to report to the Office of Human Resources However, this does not exempt the supervisors from required reporting to the Office of Human Resources of any actual, potential, or believed need for an employee accommodation.
- The Office of Human Resources may require the employee who is requesting accommodation to secure a medical evaluation before returning to the workplace.
- Supervisors of employees requesting accommodation must make best efforts to:
- Promptly engage in the interactive process with the employee that requests a reasonable accommodation;
- Collaborate with the Office of Human Resources to coordinate appropriate accommodation in response to appropriate medical certification and other relevant information;
- Conduct an individualized and flexible consideration of reasonable accommodations for employees with medical conditions;
- Obtain the employee’s suggestions for possible accommodation in the current position;
- Attempt to provide reasonable accommodation that will enable the employee to perform the essential functions of their current position;
- Ensure that employees with disabilities are afforded equal opportunities for professional development and advancement;
- Ensure that disabled employees receive equal treatment to non-disabled employees in terms of salary and performance evaluation decisions, taking only legitimate business factors into consideration.
- Failure to engage in the interactive process, failure to refer employees requesting accommodations to an appropriate official, or any other violation of the policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination (SFCC Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action).
- If the employee’s disability or impairment is related to a worker’s compensation claim, the employee must provide the Office of Human Resources the Physician Work Activity Status Report from the College’s authorized provider and also provide a copy to their supervisor for accommodation.
- If the employee’s disability or impairment is not a worker’s compensation claim, and the employee believes their disability or impairment is affecting their job performance, then the employee must provide a health care provider’s certificate stating the condition and the accommodation requested.
- Retaliation Prohibited
- Retaliation against an individual for reporting suspected discrimination, participating in an investigation of discrimination, or opposing discriminatory practices is strictly prohibited.
- Any employee who retaliates against another for doing so may be subject to discipline (SFCC Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action).
Statement of Accountability and Responsibility
The President, through the Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Effectiveness and the Chief Human Resources Officer, shall be responsible for enforcing human resources policies and procedures. The Office of Human Resources shall work with the different departments and offices to comply with this policy and to develop procedures that will enforce this policy regarding awareness, prevention, and remediation.
American with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended 42 U.S.C §12101
New Mexico Human Rights Act NMRA§28-1-7
SFCC Policy 4-2 Employee Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action
SFCC Policy 4-9 Discrimination and Harassment
SFCC Governing Board approved: 9/28/2006
Revised and Governing Board approved: 10/25/2017
Revised and Governing Board approved: 2/22/2023