Equity & Diversity

Supervisor's Guide to Reasonable Accommodation & the Interactive Process

Statement of Policy:  Authority & CSUN Values

California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is committed to maintaining an inclusive learning and working environment where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.  To that end, CSUN strives to make its programs, services, and activities accessible to students, faculty, staff, and the general public who visit or attend a campus-sponsored event, with disabilities. This policy is in accordance with applicable state and federal laws including, but not limited to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Government Code § 12940 et seq., and Education Code §§ 67302 and 67310-13.

Under the ADA and FEHA, qualified individuals with disabilities must have equal access to all aspects of employment that are available to employees without disabilities. Those Acts also require employers to afford such individuals reasonable accommodations that will allow them to perform the essential functions of their jobs.  CSUN is fully committed to ensuring equal employment opportunity for qualified applicants and/or employees with disabilities and engages in a timely, good faith, interactive process to determine effective reasonable accommodations.

CSUN’s Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity serves as the University’s ADA Coordinator and is responsible for the initial review and processing of requests for disability-related accommodations.  The Office of Equity and Diversity also handles complaints of discrimination and harassment on the basis of disability.

The University has established procedures for both applicants for employment and current employees to request disability-related accommodations.


Requesting Reasonable Accommodation - Applicants for Employment

Applicants who require an accommodation during the application process should contact the Office of Equity & Diversity (E&D) at (818) 677-2077. E&D will work with the Office of Human Resources for requests relative to non-faculty positions and the Office of Faculty Affairs for faculty positions.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodation - New and Current Employees

To request a disability-related accommodation, the employee should:

1. Communicate her/his need for an accommodation to her/his supervisor.
2. Submit the following two forms to the Office of Equity & Diversity:

Complete theRequest for Disability Related Accommodations form to ensure that all necessary information is communicated, such as:

  • Type of accommodation requested;
  • An explanation of the limitation for which the accommodation is needed;
  • A description of how the accommodation will allow the individual to perform the essential functions of her/his job.
  • *Note: The employee is not required to disclose what his/her disability is (diagnosis), only what his/her limitations/restrictions are.
  • The form is to be signed by the employee’s supervisor only as acknowledgement of receipt of the employee’s request for an accommodation.

The “Medical Provider Inquiry Form (MPIF) form which must be completed by the employee’s physician/medical provider and provides information regarding, at a minimum:

  • A description of the functional limitation as it relates to the employee’s job duties, including the anticipated duration (e.g., temporary or permanent impairment).  If temporary, specify the date it is anticipated the functional limitation will end.
  • A description of the functional limitation caused by the disability in work-related terms. 
  • For example, if “no prolonged walking” is requested, the medical statement should specify how long or how far the employee is able to walk; if rest periods are required, the medical statement should specify how often and how long the rest periods should be.
  • The permanent or long-term impact, or the expected impact, resulting from the impairment.
  • *Note: An employee must submit medical documentation to provide evidence of her/his functional limitation in support of the request for a disability-related accommodation.  The MPIF and any other medical documentation should be provided    directly to the Office of Equity & Diversity, where it will be kept in a confidential file. 
  • If alternative or additional medical documentation is provided, the documentation must be dated and written on official letterhead.  The treating health care professional must be identified (e.g., M.D., D.O., D.C.) and the documentation signed by the treating health care professional.

3. Actively engage in a good faith, ongoing Interactive Process with the employee’s supervisor and/or manager and the Human Resources Associate Director of Benefits Administration and Workers’ Compensation to discuss and determine the essential functions of the position, the precise job-related limitations, the potential reasonable accommodations that may enable the employee to perform the essential duties of the job, and assessing the effectiveness of the accommodations.

*Note: The University will consider any requests or preferences stated by the employee, but the University has the ultimate discretion to select the appropriate accommodation based on legitimate business justification, including but not limited to cost and campus/workplace impact.

Role of Equity & Diversity in the Ongoing Process of Reasonable Accommodation

In assisting employees with the process of requesting a disability-related accommodation, the Office of Equity & Diversity:

  1. Receives the employee’s Request for Disability Related Accommodation Form and Medical Provider Inquiry Form (and/or other accompanying medical documentation from the employee’s physician);
  2. Reviews both forms to determine if the employee has a qualifying medical condition as defined by the ADA which the University is obligated to attempt to accommodate;
  3. If it is determined that the employee has a qualifying condition, E&D sends a memorandum to the employee’s supervisor instructing her/him to contact the Human Resources Associate Director for Benefits Administration and Workers’ Compensation and to begin the Interactive Process with the employee, if it has not already been initiated;
  4. Along with the Human Resources Associate Director for Benefits Administration and Workers’ Compensation, provides, upon request, guidance to managers, supervisors, and persons requesting reasonable accommodations on engaging in the Interactive Process.
  5. Maintains records related to an employee’s disability accommodation in a confidential file to be kept separately from the employee’s personnel file.
  6. Reviews complaints of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation on the basis of disability pursuant to California State University (CSU) Executive Order 1089 (System-wide Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Against Employees and Third Parties).

Supervisor Information

The purpose of the Interactive Process is to determine whether - for employees who, due to a disability, have limitations that prevent them from performing the essential functions of their job - a reasonable accommodation exists which will allow them to be able to perform those essential job functions. The following are the specific questions which the Interactive Process is designed to answer:

  1. Does the employee have a disability which the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the University to attempt to accommodate? If so……..
  2. What are the essential, (as opposed to the non-essential) functions of the employee’s job?
  3. Does the employee have limitations that result from her/his disability? If so, what are those limitations?
  4. Do those limitations interfere with the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of her/his job?
  5. Is there a reasonable accommodation which the University can provide which would allow the employee to perform those essential job functions?
  6. If so, what is that accommodation?

More details on the Interactive Process are available at the Job Accommodation Network website at: http://askjan.org/topics/interactive.htm


  1. If the employee requests an accommodation, the employee need not use the words, “reasonable accommodation” in the request.  If an employee says that s/he has a limitation or restriction, treat it as a request for an accommodation. The request need not be in writing.  Also, it may come from a family member.
  2. If the employee does not request an accommodation but you have knowledge that would put a reasonable person on notice that the employee needs an accommodation, you must begin the Interactive Process.
  3. Do not ask for the employee’s medical diagnosis or medical condition.  Ask about the employee’s job-related limitations caused by the medical condition.
  4. You cannot compel an employee to identify an accommodation and cannot impose an accommodation upon an employee even if you believe that the employee needs it. 
  5. While their input is taken into consideration, the employee and medical provider are not to choose the accommodation.
  6. The employer is also not obligated to provide the employee’s preferred accommodation. The employer may discuss the accommodation with the employee and provide an alternative accommodation that is reasonable and which allows the employee to perform the essential functions of her/his job.
  7. Few jobs, work environments and/or disabling conditions are entirely static, therefore no grant or denial of an accommodation is eternal.  Thus, neither the reasonable accommodation nor the interactive process obligations of the employer are satisfied by a one-time participation in the process.  The Interactive Process is for that reason, both open and ongoing, and an employer does not meet its obligation to engage in the Interactive Process by simply considering and rejecting the employee’s suggestions for a reasonable accommodation. Both supervisor and employee must continue to be open to monitoring, reviewing, modifying or even terminating an accommodation based upon the experience of how it has worked in the past or is working in the present in light of changed circumstances either in the workplace or with the employee. Each request should be considered on its own merit.
  8. The Interactive Process must be accomplished in good faith and in a timely manner.  Undue delays and obstructions by either the supervisor or the employee are documented by CSUN’s ADA Coordinator for both the manager/supervisor and the employee.
  9. Direct contact with the employee’s medical provider is not permitted.
    • Act quickly;
    • Be thorough;
    • Communicate with the employee at every step; and
    • Document all the steps in the process and all proceedings.