Subject:                       University Human Resources

Policy:                          Reasonable Accommodations for Employees and Applicants with Disabilities

Effective Date:           January 1, 2019         


Review Date:             Three (3) years from Effective Date above

Applicability:             This policy applies to all university employees and applicants for employment at the university

Responsible Parties: 

  • MSU Billings: Human Resources

  • MSU at Bozeman: Human Resources

  • Great Falls College MSU: Human Resources

  • MSU Northern: Human Resources


This policy applies to all employees of the following MSU Campuses:

  • MSU Bozeman (including MSU Extension, Agricultural Experiment Stations, and Gallatin College)

  • MSU Billings (including City College)

  • MSU Northern

  • Great Falls College MSU

For the purpose of this policy, the term “university” means all campuses listed above.


The university wishes to foster an inclusive and diverse workforce free from discrimination. The university will make “reasonable accommodations” in the workplace or application process for an employee or applicant with a disability. This policy outlines the process for exploring possible workplace accommodations for university employees and applicants with disabilities, including faculty, contract, classified, temporary, and student employees. Students with disabilities seeking accommodations for academics, housing, or extracurricular programs should contact the university student disabilities services office on their campus.


a.  Disability

A person is considered to have a disability, and is entitled to a reasonable accommodation, if the person has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activity includes, but is not limited to: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. It also includes major bodily functions such as the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.

b.  Reasonable Accommodations

A reasonable accommodation is a change or adjustment to recruitment, job, or work environment that permits an otherwise qualified person with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of the job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment the same as employees without disabilities.

Each accommodation request shall be evaluated and determined separately. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

      • modifying work schedules;

      • granting breaks or providing reasonable leave;

      • altering how or when job duties are performed;

      • moving to different office space;

      • making changes in workplace policies;

      • providing assistive technology;

      • removing an architectural barrier, including reconfiguring work spaces; and

      • providing materials in alternative formats (e.g., Braille, large print).

c.  Undue Hardship

The university is not required to make an accommodation if it would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the university. “Undue hardship” means an “action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of a number of factors such as size, resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s operation.” Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. The university will assess on a case-by-case basis whether a particular accommodation would impose an undue hardship.

While the university will consider the employee or applicant’s preferred accommodation, it may select another accommodation if it is effective in allowing the employee to perform the essential functions of the job or the applicant to compete for the position.

Reassignment to a vacant position will only be considered as an accommodation if no other reasonable accommodations has been effective to assist the otherwise qualified employee to perform essential functions of their current position. In addition, the disabled employee must be qualified for the vacant position with or without reasonable accommodations. Reassignment may not violate an applicable seniority system or collective bargaining agreement.


The process of determining a reasonable accommodation is a collaborative, interactive process between the employee/applicant, the employing unit representative, and the designated Accommodation Coordinator or their designee.

a.  Accommodation Coordinator for Employees

Each campus will have a designated Accommodation Coordinator. Contact information for the Accommodation Coordinator is available on the appropriate HR website.

MSU Bozeman (including MSU Extension, Gallatin College and Agricultural Research Centers)

MSU Billings (including City College)

MSU Northern

Great Falls College MSU

b.  Applicant Requests

All job postings will contain a statement advising applicants with disabilities they may request reasonable accommodations. Applicants may make requests to the Accommodation Coordinator as directed in the job postings.

c.  Employee Requests

Employees may request a disability accommodation from their supervisor or the Accommodation Coordinator. A third party (e.g., family member, medical care provider) may also make the request on the employee’s behalf. If a request is made to a supervisor, the supervisor will forward the request to the Accommodation Coordinator as soon as possible. The request may be oral or written. If an employee is uncertain about whether they have a disability or require an accommodation, they may contact the Accommodation Coordinator for guidance.

The university may also begin the interactive process when an employing unit learns through observation that an employee may need an accommodation to assist in performing the job duties because of a disability.

d.  Information Requests

To assist in the process, the Accommodation Coordinator may request:

      • a description of the disability, if not known or obvious;

      • supporting medical documentation, if the need for an accommodation is not known or obvious and/or is necessary to determine the accommodation;

      • a description of the limitations that may prevent the employee from performing some of their duties;

      • the duties that the employee cannot perform because of the disability; and

      • if known, the desired accommodation.

This information is generally provided on forms available from the Accommodation Coordinator.

e.  Employee Responsibilities

The employee (or the employee’s representative) is responsible for:

      • completing the required forms and forwarding the completed forms to the Accommodation Coordinator in accordance with the directions;

      • responding to all requests for documentation within time frames established by the Accommodation Coordinator; and

      • actively participating in the interactive process.

The Accommodation Coordinator may, with the employee’s permission, contact health care providers if there are questions concerning the need for an accommodation and/or to identify any functional limitations of the employee related to the job. Health care providers may also be queried about proposed accommodations; however, the university is ultimately responsible to select the accommodation to be offered to the employee.


When an employee requests an accommodation, or the employing unit learns of a potential need for an accommodation, the university will collect the information necessary to establish the employee is a person with a disability and identify potential accommodations.

a.  Accommodations the Accommodation Coordinator believes will effectively address the limitations of the employee, and will not cause undue 
     hardship, will be offered to the employee.

b.  If no accommodation is offered, or if the accommodation offered is not the one requested by the employee, the reasons for the decision will be
      provided in writing, including the reasons for selecting the accommodation offered and information about the Discrimination Grievance Procedures.

Employees receiving an accommodation who experience a change in their condition that may require a change in the accommodation may seek additional or different accommodations.


If the employee is dissatisfied with a denial or the accommodation(s) offered, the employee may grieve the decision in accordance with the Discrimination Grievance Procedures.


Information concerning a disability submitted by an applicant, employee, or medical provider shall be maintained confidentially by the Accommodation Coordinator and may be shared only with those who have a need to know in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.


**Questions related to the Reasonable Accommodation Process should be referred to the Accommodation Coordinator.**