Students with Disabilities

State and federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability in employment, including student employment. At Eckerd, our mission is to be an inclusive campus community dedicated to student success, intellectual growth, and responsible global citizenship. Inclusion of students with disabilities in all aspects of the campus community, including student employment, is the right thing to do.

How is inclusion practiced in student employment?

  • Non-discriminatory hiring, training, evaluation, and advancement practices
  • Reasonable accommodation in all employment processes
  • Recruitment of students with disabilities for campus employment

What does law require?

Title I of the ADA prohibits discrimination in employment against people with disabilities. It requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee, unless such accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Reasonable accommodations include such actions as making work sites accessible, modifying - existing equipment, providing new devices, modifying work schedules, restructuring jobs, and providing readers or interpreters.

Title I also prohibits the use of employment tests and other selection criteria that screen out, or tend to screen out, individuals with disabilities, unless such tests or criteria are shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity. It also bans the use of pre-employment medical examinations or inquiries to determine if an applicant has a disability.

Who is a "person with a disability?" How is that verified?

The Americans with Disabilities Amended Act of 2008 (ADAA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 define disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (e.g., seeing, hearing, walking, learning). These statutes use the average person (rather than peers) as a benchmark when considering relative strengths and weaknesses. This distinction is important in the determination of diagnosis and recommended accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Generally, Accessible Education Services is the verifying agent on campus for students with disabilities and can be contacted for such verification, as well as assistance with identifying and providing accommodations:

Marra Piazza Brass

Director, Accessible Education Services

727-864-7724

piazzaml@eckerd.edu

Do students with disabilities still need to meet the qualifications for the position?

Yes, provided that the qualifications are bona fide job requirements. Only identify qualifications that are truly necessary to the job. For example, is it required that the student be able to lift 25 pounds, or only transport 25 pounds?

How does a supervisor know they need to provide a reasonable accommodation?

The student with a disability is responsible for requesting an accommodation. This can be in writing or verbally and the student does not need to use any specific wording (including the word "accommodation") to request it. The accommodation process needs to be interactive; a discussion between the student and the supervisor about what the barriers are and how they can be reasonably removed.

What’s "reasonable?"

Student employees still need to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without accommodation. "Reasonable" is not measured against the means of how the job is done, but rather what is accomplished and to what standard. For example, a student employee working for the IT help desk may need to respond to email questions. That function still needs to be completed in an accurate and timely manner. But a student with a print disability may need software that reads the email to them.

If the accommodation is an "undue hardship", it is not "reasonable." Undue hardship would include restructuring of the essential functions of the job, or prohibitively expensive adjustments. (Note: cost of accommodation is measured against the resources of the institution, not the department.)

Who pays for accommodations?

As businesses have repeatedly found, most job accommodations cost little or nothing. Generally, departments are responsible for the cost of accommodations. However, please contact the Accessible Education Services office if you have concerns about this.

What if a student discloses a disability in the hiring process? Does that affect what I do?

Yes, if the student needs a reasonable accommodation in order to equally participate in the hiring process. Examples of this include alternate formats of application materials or sign language interpreters during an interview.

Otherwise, disability information cannot be used in the hiring process.

Can a supervisor ask about disability in an interview?

No. Asking about disability in an interview sets an employer up for a discrimination complaint, whether or not that information was actually used in the hiring decision, because it becomes very difficult to prove that the information was not used. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask of every interviewee whether they can perform the essential functions of the job with or without accommodation. Do not ask this only of individuals whom you know or suspect have a disability.