As both an employer and a provider of public education, SFU is under an affirmative duty to accommodate persons with disabilities “up to the point of undue hardship.” In March, 2009, the SFU Board of Governors approved a Disability Accommodation Policy (GP 40) which has been posted on the SFU General Policies web site. This policy formalizes what has been the long-established practice at SFU. SFU employees (part-time and full-time faculty and staff) who have physical, neurological or psychiatric disabilities are encouraged to apply for disability accommodation if it would improve their ability to perform the substantive duties of their position.
We hope that the following FAQ’s will enhance your understanding of disability accommodation.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is an “accommodation” in the employment context?
An accommodation is the implementation of modifications to the work environment which allow a person with a disability to perform his / her job. Accommodations vary according to the nature and extent of the individual’s condition. Accommodations can include the introduction of special equipment (such as door handles, wheelchair ramps, computer software) and job re-training or re-assignment.
2. What is an application for accommodation in the employment context?
It is written notification from an employee that they have a disability which requires workplace modification. The University’s “duty to accommodate” requires accommodation “up to the point of undue hardship” which means that if accommodation is not granted, the University has a legal obligation to show that onerous conditions would result if the University was required to grant it. The accommodation process itself is a multi-party inquiry, the parties being the employer, the employee and the Union or employee organization.
3. Can employees request representation by their unions and / or employee organizations?
Yes, employees have a right to representation by their union or employee organization at all stages of the accommodation process. The choice of whether to involve the union or employee association rests entirely with the employee. In order to protect an employee's privacy rights, the University does not notify a union or employee organization when an application for accommodation has been received.
4. What medical conditions constitute a disability?
Disability is defined as any permanent or temporary physical, psychiatric or neurological impairment which is either congenital or results from illness or injury. While this is not an exhaustive list, back injuries, MS, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue, blindness, deafness and learning disabilities are all considered to be disabilities.
5. Does this policy apply to all employees of Simon Fraser University?
Yes. This policy, GP 40, applies to all employees. It applies to full or part-time members of the faculty or staff of the university.
6. What is “reasonable accommodation”?
It is the modification or extension of University resources to respond to the needs of an employee who has a disability.
7. What is the process for submitting an application for accommodation?
- Notify your supervisor in writing that you have a disability that requires accommodation and/or consult with the Return to Work/Disability Management office; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (778)782-6698.
- Contact the Human Rights Office if you consider that the accommodation granted did not meet your needs and that the University has failed in its “duty to accommodate”.
- Contact the Centre for Accessible Learning (CAL) by email email@example.com or call their office at (778) 782-3112 if you are a student with disabilities seeking accommodation.
- Refer to Policy GP26, article 4.5 “Accessibility for Students with Disabilities Policy” at http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/general/gp26.html to identify avenues of appeal if you are dissatisfied or disagree with the accommodations authorized by the Centre for Accessible Learning.
- At any point, feel free to contact the Human Rights Office to seek advice on any disability accommodation matter.