REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS PROCEDURES
In accordance with the Titles I and II of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title 20 of the State Government Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“DHMH” or the “Department”) does not discriminate against persons with a disability in the provision of services, programs, benefits or activities. Procedures outlined in this document have been established to assist DHMH employees with maintaining compliance with State and Federal statutes and laws.
Disability--A mental or physical impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity of an individual; a record of such an impairment; or being regarded as having such an impairment.
Major life activities include, but are not limited to: caring for oneself, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating and working, and the operation of major bodily functions.
Major bodily functions include, but are not limited to: functions of the immune, digestive, neurological, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine and reproductive systems, normal cell growth, bowel, bladder and brain.
Interactive Process--The interactive process is an informal contact involving both the requesting party and the determining party, where the precise job limitation(s) resulting from the disability is identified and potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations are discussed.
Qualified individual with a disability (EMPLOYMENT)--A person with a disability who satisfies the requisite skill, experience, education and other job-related requirements of the employment position the individual holds or desires, and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the position.
Qualified individual with a disability (PUBLIC PROGRAM or SERVICE RECIPIENTS)--For purposes of receiving services, education or training, qualified individuals with disabilities are disabled persons who meet the essential eligibility requirements established by the service, education or training.
Reasonable Accommodation--A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job, work environment or program that will enable a qualified employee, applicant or recipient with a disability to perform essential job functions, participate in the application process, or benefits of the service and/or program.
Undue Hardship--DHMH has a statutory obligation to provide a requested reasonable accommodation only if such a modification or adjustment does not cause an undue hardship. Undue hardship is defined as a request that poses a significant negative impact on the expenses and/or resources of the organization. Such an impact is determined by the cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, total financial resources, legitimate safety concerns, nature and structure of the employer’s business and the facility providing the accommodation. In this case, all finances and resources under Maryland State Government will be considered for DHMH requests.
Requests for Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities Due to Pregnancy
Effective October 1, 2013, pursuant to Chapters 547 and 548 of the 2013 Acts of the Maryland General Assembly and State Government Article § 20-609 employees are now granted a statutory right to reasonable accommodations if the pregnancy causes or contributes to a disability, and if the accommodation does not impose an undue hardship for the employer. Employers are required to recognize disabilities caused by pregnancy or childbirth as temporary disabilities for all job-related purposes and shall explore with the employee all possible means of providing the reasonable accommodation throughout the duration of the employee’s pregnancy without creating an undue hardship to the employer. This law requires that under these circumstances, the pregnancy be treated as a temporary disability under any health or temporary disability insurance or sick leave plan available in connection with employment. Employers may require medical documentation from an employee’s health care provider regarding the medical advisability of a reasonable accommodation to the same extent certification is required for other temporary disabilities. The certification shall include: date a reasonable accommodation is medically advisable; probable duration; explanation as to the medical advisability of the reasonable accommodation.
Further, this law requires that employers post in a conspicuous location, and include in any employee handbook, information concerning the employee’s rights regarding this law.
For employment related matters, requests for reasonable accommodations may be made to the unit Supervisor/Manager, Personnel Liaison, unit ADA Designee, or DHMH Equal Access Compliance Manager. For public program/service related matters, requests may be made to an employee of the public entity or the DHMH Equal Access Compliance Manager ("Desginated Party"). (Note: requests may be made in writingor verbal. While DHMH encourages that the Request for Accommodation Form be completed and submitted by the requesting party for recordkeeping purposes, the law does not require the request be made in writing; the interactive process must begin once DHMH becomes aware of the request, written or verbal.)
Once the request has been made, the designated party will meet with the program participant or employee to clarify the request and only if necessary, request that the employee or participant submit medical documentation. (e.g., the medical limitation is not obvious and/or the nexus between the accommodation request and the self-identified disability is unclear.). The designated party may contact the DHMH Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (OEOP) Equal Access Compliance Unit (EACU) for guidance; or submit the request for a reasonable accommodation directly to EACU. If the request is submitted directly to EACU, the DHMH Equal Access Compliance Manager will discuss with both the requesting party and employer/public entity the nature of the reasonable accommodation request, the possibilities of granting the accommodation and alternatives for resolving the matter.
After all necessary documentation has been received from the employee or program participant, the designated party, and other applicable parties may meet to make determinations for the accommodation request. The medical documentation need not state the specific disability; however, the physical and/or mental limitation and need for the accommodation must be clear. The designated party should not request documentation that is unrelated to determining the limitation and the necessity for an accommodation (e.g., requesting entire medical records or asking the requesting party’s health care provider to reveal limitations not related to the request.). In employment related matters, if medical documentation does not address specific concerns held by the employer regarding the employee’s condition to perform the essential functions of the job, the employee can be referred to the State Medical Director for a workability evaluation.
The employee or program participant must be promptly notified of the outcome of their accommodations request after the interactive process has been completed and all necessary documentation is reviewed. Information obtained by the employer regarding the medical condition or history of the applicant or employee must be maintained on separate forms and in separate files from the personnel record. This information is treated as a confidential medical record and shall only be disclosed to supervisors or managers that are related to the accommodation, first aid and safety personnel, when appropriate (e.g., emergency medical treatment is required) and government officials investigating compliance with the ADA.
Any person who alleges discrimination on the basis of disability, including alleged failure to accommodate, in the provision of employment, services, activities, programs or benefits by DHMH may file a complaint with OEOP. All complaints or suspicions of potential discrimination, harassment or retaliation will be promptly investigated.
Internal complaints may be filed in writing or by contacting the DHMH Equal Access Compliance Manager. Complaints filed with OEOP, must be filed no later than 30 calendar days after the alleged violation, by contacting:
Equal Access Compliance Manager
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Office of Equal Opportunity Programs | Equal Access Compliance Unit
201 W. Preston Street, Room 514B | Baltimore, MD 21201
Office: (410) 767-5184 | Fax: (410) 333-5337
Within 15 calendar days of receipt of the complaint, the complainant will be contacted to discuss the complaint and possible informal resolutions, including mediation. Within 15 days after the discussion or 30 days after the complaint has been filed, the DHMH Equal Access Compliance Manager will notify the complainant of the Department’s decision or will request an extension pending further need for investigation. The Equal Access Compliance Manager will make every attempt to resolve the complaint as soon as possible.
Parties may also file an external complaint with the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, 6 St. Paul Street, Suite 900, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, 410-767-8600 (Phone), 410-333-1841 (Fax), within 180 days of the alleged violation or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 10 South Howard Street, Baltimore, Maryland, 21202, 1-800-669-4000 (Phone), 410-962-4270 (Fax) within 300 days of the alleged violation.
As an alternative to contacting the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, a program participant may file with U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Civil Rights, 150 South Independence Mall, Suite 372, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106, 1- 800-368-1019 (Phone), 215-861-4431 (Fax) Website: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/civilrights/complaints/index.html within 180 of the alleged violation.
Complaints may be filed with any one of the external agencies and OEOP simultaneously.
Pursuant to the Annotated Code of Maryland, State Personnel and Pensions §5-214 Information obtained as part of an investigation conducted under this subtitle is confidential within the meaning of Title 10, Subtitle 6 of the State Government Article.
It is unlawful to retaliate against individuals for opposing an alleged discriminatory activity or participating in the investigation of an alleged violation of discrimination. Any employee found to have violated Federal or State laws prohibiting retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action that includes, but is not limited to reprimand, demotion, suspension or dismissal.