If you are an MIT employee seeking accommodations for a documented disability, the MIT Disabilities Services and Medical Leaves Office (DSMLO) is here to help.
MIT is committed to the principle of equal opportunity and to providing effective and reasonable accommodations to employees with documented disabilities. These guidelines are designed to help supervisors work with disabled employees to create a productive work environment.
Obtaining Disability Services
Who is eligible for disability accomodations?
MIT operates in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADAAA), the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act of 2017, and any other applicable disability laws in providing reasonable work accommodations.
Under the ADAAA a person is considered to have a disability:
- if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity such as, but not limited to hearing, seeing, speaking, breathing, performing manual tasks, walking, caring for oneself, learning, or the operation of a major bodily function;
- has a record of having such an impairment; or
- is regarded having such an impairment.
An impairment does not necessarily constitute a disability. The degree of impairment must be significant enough to substantially limit one or more major life activity, and be documented by a qualified professional. The documentation must address the substantial limitation posed by the particular disability for which the accommodation is being requested. The employee requesting accommodation must submit medical information (diagnosis and prognosis) to will help determine whether he or she meets federal and state criteria for a disability.
Documentation should recommend the appropriate reasonable accommodation that might enable the employee to fulfill the essential function of his or her job.
How should an employee disability be documented?
Documentation serves as the foundation of an employee's request for appropriate accommodations and should include:
- a clear statement of the disability, including diagnosis and prognosis;
- up-to-date documentation for eligibility—the age of acceptable documentation depends on the disabling condition, the current status of the employee, and the employee's request for accommodations;
- a summary of evaluation procedures, as well as the diagnostic test/evaluation results used to make the diagnosis;
- a statement describing the functional impact or limitations of the disability;
- an explanation of the recommended accommodation and its relevance to the disability
- dates of the initial meeting and the most recent meeting between the employee and medical professionals; and
- a completed Reasonable Accommodation Request Form (below) presented to either the employee’s supervisor, a Human Resources officer, or the DSMLO, along with full documentation of the disability as described above.
How are accommodation requests submitted and reviewed?
A reasonable work accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a person with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by staff and faculty without disabilities. Employees are responsible for initiating requests for a disability related workplace accommodation.
During the accommodation review process, MIT will do the following:
- Conduct a review of the employee's job to identify the essential functions, equipment needs, and possible worksite modifications.
- Send a letter to the employee's doctor—if necessary—outlining the essential functions of the job and requesting that the doctor provide a detailed report of the limitations imposed by the employee's disability.
- Following the receipt of the Employee Reasonable Accommodation Request Form and the medical statement, the DSMLO and the employee will engage in an interactive dialogue to acknowledge, clarify, and discuss alternatives, if necessary. Included in the discussions are the employee’s supervisor, the Human Resources representative for the DLC, the HRO, and the DSMLO manager. The discussions will focus on whether the employee can perform the essential functions of the position with reasonable accommodation.
- Review, if applicable the employee's workplace environment with representatives from other appropriate MIT offices, such as Environmental, Health and Safety, Facilities, and the Adaptive Technology Information Center.
- Request the help of outside agencies, if necessary, in reviewing the reasonableness of the accommodation requested.
- Review accommodation recommendations with the MIT Human Resources Officer, local HR Officer and supervisor and the employee.
- The final determination for providing appropriate and reasonable accommodations rests with the Institute and will be provided to the employee in writing.
- The Institute is not required to provide an accommodation that will eliminate functions of the job in question or to provide an accommodation or service that is personal in nature, such as hearing aid or a wheelchair/crutches. Additionally the Institute is not required to lower performance, production, or conduct standards, or to alter attendance requirements expected of all employees.
- If the accommodation is appropriate and reasonable, the cost of the accommodation is primarily the department's responsibility. If the cost is beyond department means, it may be shared by higher levels in the department's reporting line. Any concerns regarding the feasibility of funding the accommodation should be directed to the DSMLO.
- The employee's right to privacy must be respected in compliance with the Americans with Disability Act and MIT's Policies & Procedures.To that end, supervisors and human resources personnel shall be provided information only when necessary to facilitate accommodations.
How are learning disabilities, ADD, ADHD, and psychiatric disabilities accommodated?
Employees who want to receive reasonable accommodation as a result of a learning disability must meet the following requirements:
- provide documentation of disability as described above;
- provide a comprehensive assessment, including a diagnostic interview, assessment of aptitude, academic achievement, information processing, and a diagnosis;
- provide an assessment and diagnosis based on a comprehensive assessment battery that does not rely on any one test or subtest;
- provide documentation that addresses both the nature and severity of the learning disability;
- provide documentation from a qualified individual, namely professionals who would generally be considered qualified to evaluate specific learning disabilities, provided that they have additional training and experience in the assessment of learning problems in adults: clinical or educational psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists, learning disabilities specialists, medical doctors, and other professionals.
Employees who request a reasonable accommodation for an Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder must also provide a statement of the presenting problem, evidence of early impairment, testing that verifies a pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impassivity that currently affects the functional limitation of the employee, identification of DSM-IV criteria for ADHD, and a report summary and rationale for accommodations using evidence from the evaluation. Professionals approved for evaluating ADHD are licensed physicians, neuropsychologists, and psychologists.
Employees who request an accommodation for a psychiatric disability must provide documentation as described in the guidelines for documenting a disability (above) in a written report from a psychiatrist, licensed psychologist, certified social worker (CSW or ACSW), or licensed professional counselor. The report must include the DSM-IV diagnosis and a summary of current symptoms.
How does MIT accommodate job candidates with disabilities?
MIT is obligated to provide reasonable accommodation during the interview process for candidates with disabilities. Supervisors should consult their Human Resources Officer or the DSMLO at (617) 253-4572.
How do employees with disabilities submit a grievance?
Applicants and employees with disabilities who believe that the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated or who have complaints of discrimination arising under Institute policies on the employment of a qualified individual with disabilities, are encouraged to seek recourse through the internal grievance procedures as described in Policies and Procedures Section 9.9.
Who should employees with disabilities contact for support?
Employees may discuss their needs for accommodation with their supervisors, the Human Resources Officer assigned to their departments, or the DSMLO.