Last fall we had several discussions about how presumptively vulnerable faculty and staff might be reluctant to seek reasonable accommodations for fear that causing extra work or impacting the unit’s budget might lead to subtle or explicit resentment or retaliation in terms of annual reviews and opportunities for career advancement. In short, this issue could be affecting diversity, equity, and inclusion at WSU.
The Faculty Senate met with the President and Provost last fall, and we raised this concern. Both were engaged and interested in knowing more about this issue and were willing to have the matter looked in to further.
- On February 4th, 2022, we met with Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer Theresa Elliot-Cheslek HRS Disability Services Director Kendra Wilkins-Fontenot to discuss how reasonable accommodation is managed at WSU and what possible solutions to address real or perceived concerns and barriers to accessing this assistance.
Director Wilkins-Fontenot, indicated HRS can work with employees and departments to address accommodatioconcerns or perceptions of risk associated with seeking reasonable accommodation. Her office is managing many requests at any given time and each request requires an interactive process between the employee, unit, and health care provider (if involved). HRS serves as a facilitator and evaluator for this process. When specific units have questions regarding costs, they work with departments to identify other potential resources.
We will work together to increase education about employee rights with the goal of minimizing any perceptions about negative consequences from seeking an accommodation, and to provide department leadership with information about accommodation rights and responsibilities. As part of this solution, I have contacted the Provost’s Office to request that a representative from the HRS Disability Service be granted time to present information about the reasonable accommodation request and review process during new employee orientation sessions and at New Chair orientation.
If an accommodation is needed, WSU employees should contact the Disability Services Office at HRS to facilitate this process firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on Reasonable Accommodation may be found on the HRS Reasonable Accommodation website. If an employee feels that such action has resulted in a negative consequence such as discrimination, they should contact the Office of Compliance and Civil Rights.
Douglas Call, Chair, Faculty Senate