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​​5.2.3 Accommodating Disabled Employees, Pregnant Women, and New Birth Mothers

​​Many but not all positions in the archdiocese are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. In accordance with Catholic teaching on social justice, the archdiocese as a matter of policy reasonably accommodates all job applicants and employees who qualify as disabled, women who are pregnant, and new birth mothers, ​so that they can perform the essential functions of their job.

An individual with a qualifying disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. A short-term disability such as a broken leg that heals normally does not qualify as a disability requiring reasonable accommodation; a chronic condition that resolves itself but can return, such as migraines or asthma, does qualify.

Employers are also required to provide reasonable accommodations for a woman's known limitations arising out of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

Arriving at a reasonable accommodation is a multi-step process known as the "interactive process." The usual steps in the process are as follows:

  • The employee informs the employer that he or she has a physical or mental disability, is a pregnant woman, or is a new birth mother and needs accommodation, or the employer has reason to know or believes that the employee is disabled, a pregnant woman, or a new birth mother and is limited in performing the essential functions of the job.

  • This information triggers the employer's duty to engage in a good faith, ongoing, interactive process of seeking and providing information to arrive at a reasonable accommodation.

  • The employer should determine if the employee's condition (whether arising from a physical or mental disability or pregnancy/birth related) qualifies as a condition that needs accommodation (the employee can be asked to provide medical certification of the pertinent condition).

  • The employer should determine if the condition in fact impairs the employee's ability to perform the essential functions of the job (the essential functions of the job should be listed in the job description).

  • The employer should discuss with the employee the exact nature of the limitations and what types of accommodation would be most effective (the only limit on an accommodation is whether it would impose an undue hardship on the employer to provide it, like remodeling or extensive adaptation of the facilities; extending a leave of absence beyond the time granted by archdiocesan policy may be required as a reasonable accommodation).

  • The employer should respond expeditiously to a request for a reasonable accommodation but the response does not have to be immediate.

  • The employer does not have to provide the employee's preferred accommodation as long as the accommodation offered enables the employee to perform the essential functions of the job.

  • If an employee refuses to participate in the process or does not provide sufficient information to help the employer determine what kind of accommodation to offer, the employer cannot be liable for failure to accommodate.

  • The employer should follow up periodically with the employee to make sure that the accommodation remains effective or necessary.

  • The employer should document all steps in the interactive process carefully, ask the employee to sign an acknowledgment of the accommodation provided, and place all documents in the employee's separate medical file.

Because the interactive process can be complicated and significant liability can result for failure to accommodate, consult with the Human Resources Department​​ when an employee makes a request for reasonable accommodation.

Note: Students with disabilities are entitled to minor adjustments. For information about the process of responding to a disabled student's needs, see Inclusion Policies and Procedures.​

3-8-2021, 6-29-2023​