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Information for Supervisors and Managers

Swarthmore College welcomes employees with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of employment and in all College programs and activities. Our policy is consistent with relevant governmental statutes and regulations, including those pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Complying with these laws helps Swarthmore achieve its goal of offering equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals, helps tap an under-utilized employee population and adds to the diversity of the College community.

What you need to know about the ADA

The ADA provides protection for the person with a disability from discrimination in any employment action and requires the employer to make reasonable accommodations to aid the individual in the execution of essential duties of the job. The ADA also provides protection for the employer from having to make unreasonable accommodations that are detrimental operationally or fiscally. The employer is not required to create a position as an accommodation or to shift essential duties from the person with a disability to another staff member resulting in an increased workload for that staff member.

The College's position is to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with serious medical conditions. We have been 100% successful in finding accommodations that are acceptable to both the individual and the department.

Reasonable Accommodation

At the time of the request for an accommodation, the College requests a completed Request for Accommodation form and medical documentation from a health care provider of the serious medical condition and what accommodations the health care provider would recommend. Then, a dialog is begun with you, the employee and The Human Resources Mgr., Work Life & Employee Recognition Programs to consider all possible accommodations. Working together, a selection is made of the most appropriate and reasonable accommodations. The College has a fund established to pay for accommodations.

Illnesses that are progressive may require accommodations beyond those made initially. The College remains ready to continue accommodations if an illness progresses and further accommodations are required for the employee to continue doing the essential functions of the positions.

Should an illness progress to a stage where an individual can no longer perform the essential functions of his/her job with accommodations, the College would work with the individual to apply for other suitable positions.


The ADA and other federal regulations provide for confidentiality and privacy for the individual with a disability. The College requires your assistance in maintaining this privacy to the extent possible in every case. Only those individuals that have a need to know in order to create the accommodations should be involved.  HR Manager, Leaves & Wellness, Lisa Pierce (610-690-5620), can assist you in handling communication issues with the employee's co-workers. Sometimes, because co-workers don't know that an individual has a disability, and therefore don't understand the accommodations they see being made for the person, tensions can arise. Should this occur, contact the Employee Relations Manager for assistance.

The ADA and the Hiring Process

The ADA prohibits, as a general rule, a hiring manager from asking questions that elicit information about a disability. Direct questions about an obvious disability are prohibited as well as questioning whether the applicant has a disability, if no disability is obvious. It is allowable to ask whether the individual can perform all the functions of the position with or without an accommodation. Our office can provide you with a list of questions for your position that are allowable under the law as well as how to handle an applicant request for an accommodation in order to have full access to the application process.