Employee Accommodations

UC Irvine is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. The University provides reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified employees who are disabled or become disabled and need assistance to perform the essential functions of their positions. 

What is a Reasonable Accommodation in Employment?

A "reasonable accommodation" is any reasonable adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified employee: 

  • To perform the essential functions of the position. 
  • To enjoy benefits and privileges of employment. Examples of benefits and privileges include health insurance and participation in wellness programs.

Who is Responsible for Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation in Employment?

Employees are responsible for informing the University when a reasonable accommodation is needed.

How does an Employee Request a Reasonable Accommodation?

Employees can either ask for reasonable accommodations directly from their supervisors or contact the Employee Experience Center at eec@uci.edu or 949-824-0500. Graduate students requesting accommodations to serve as teaching assistants should also contact the Employee Experience Center.

Graduate students requesting accommodations for their own academic studies should contact the Disability Service Center

How does the Reasonable Accommodation Request Process Work for Employees? 

Once the employee makes the reasonable accommodation request, they engage in the interactive process with their supervisor and/or dept HR representative. Medical documentation will be requested from the employee to support their accommodation request. In the interactive process, the employer and the employee will work together to find a reasonable accommodation.

Does UCI have to Provide the Reasonable Accommodation that the Employee Wants?

No. According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidance on reasonable accommodation, “If more than one accommodation is effective, ‘the preference of the individual with a disability should be given primary consideration. However, the employer providing the accommodation has the ultimate discretion to choose between effective accommodations.’”

Both the University and the employee are expected to participate in the interactive process in good faith. The interactive process will also assess whether the proposed accommodation poses an undue hardship or a direct threat.

When can UCI Deny an Employee’s Reasonable Accommodation Request?

UCI can deny a reasonable accommodation request for the following two reasons: 

  • Granting the reasonable accommodation would cause an undue hardship for the employer: According to the ADA National Network, “‘Undue hardship’ is defined as an ‘action requiring significant difficulty or expense’ when considered in light of a number of factors. These factors include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer's operation.”
  • Granting the reasonable accommodation would be a risk to the health and safety of others or property: Employers must be able to identify a specific safety risk and explain how the disability impacts the risk. Direct threat cannot be based on only generalized fears or assumptions.Even if a direct threat exists, employers must consider whether another reasonable accommodation will reduce this risk.

The Job Accommodation Network provides a more detailed discussion of direct threat

If UCI denies a reasonable accommodation for either of these reasons, the employer and employee should return to the interactive process to find an alternative.

Where can Supervisors Obtain Technical Assistance with Reasonable Accommodation Requests?

Disability Management Services can assist departments with the interactive process for providing reasonable accommodations to employees. Departments wanting technical assistance with employment-related reasonable accommodation requests can contact Wendy Pawling, Campus Disability Management Specialist or Katie Dizdarevic, UCI Health Disability Management Specialist. Supervisors should also contact their Disability Management Specialist to report the outcome of any employment-related reasonable accommodation request.

Who is Responsible for Paying for the Employee’s Reasonable Accommodation?

In the majority of cases, accommodations for employees with disabilities involve low cost or no cost measures. The employee’s home department is responsible for funding accommodations. In the event the cost of accommodations exceeds the capacity for funding at the department level, the department should solicit the responsible Dean or Vice Chancellor for financial assistance.