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Frequently Asked Questions

Americans with Disabilities Act

The University of Tennessee does not discriminate on the basis of disability in its programs, services or activities.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a person with a disability is one 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. Whether a limitation is substantial depends on the nature, severity, and expected duration of the impairment. The determination of whether an impairment is a disability is made on a case-by-case basis.

Temporary, non-chronic impairments that do not last for a long time and that have little or no long-term impact usually are not disabilities. Examples of temporary injuries or impairments might include a broken leg, a short-term illness, recovery from surgery, etc.

However, while short-term limitations may not be disabilities, the University may still be able to provide some assistance such as the use of a T van pass to go from one on-campus location to another.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a federal anti-discrimination statute which provided civil rights protection to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA was designed to remove barriers which prevent qualified individuals with disabilities from enjoying the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. Similar protections are provided by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and by the Tennessee Human Rights Act.

For University of Tennessee purposes, the ADA means that no qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of the university.

To be protected by the ADA, a person with a disability must not only be an individual with a disability, but must be qualified.

Employees: For university employees, a qualified individual with a disability is a person who satisfies the required skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the employment position and who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of the position.

Students: For students, a qualified individual with a disability is a person who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices, the removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids or services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by the University.

A UT student’s first point of contact is with Student Disability Services (SDS).

A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job, employment practice, or work environment that is intended to allow an employee with a known disability (or applicant for employment) to conduct the essential functions of his or her job. Accommodations are not required where they would impose an undue hardship, and any accommodation must be reasonable given the requirements of the job and the workplace. Some examples of reasonable accommodations at the workplace may include:

  • Providing interpreters
  • Providing extra lighting or magnifiers
  • Providing a van pass for door-to-door service on campus
  • Obtaining or modifying equipment or devices
  • Allowing routine break times for medication purposes
  • Making facilities readily accessible to and usable
  • Modifying training materials or policies

Note:  Students may need accommodations in two different areas: the academic setting and/or the workplace setting. Please consult the Student Disability Services (SDS) website for reasonable accommodations in the academic classroom setting. If a student (including GTA, GRA, or GA) has questions about accommodations in the workplace, they should consult with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Accessibility by calling 865-974-2498.

The university is obligated to consider reasonable accommodations only for the known disabilities of an otherwise qualified employee or student. In general, it is the responsibility of the employee or student to make their disability status and need for an accommodation known to the appropriate university official. Employees should contact EOA (865-974-2498) or notify their supervisor and ask the supervisor to contact EOA to begin an interactive process with all appropriate parties. Students should register with Student Disability Services (SDS).

The interactive process involves several steps.

First, the employee must make the need for an accommodation known, and must provide appropriate medical documentation to support the existence of a disability and the need for accommodation. Ideally, the employee’s physician or other health care professional will also provide suggestions for accommodation.

EOA will assess the information and discuss it with the employee. If necessary, EOA will also consult with the healthcare provider.

After that, EOA will discuss the needs and recommendations with the employee’s supervisor in order to work out reasonable accommodations. Depending on the nature and essential functions of the job, the supervisor or department may have other suggestions for what types of accommodations might work.

The interactive process is meant to allow both the employer and the employee to work on solutions.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Exempt Staff Searches

Application materials are considered confidential throughout the search. Application materials may only be reviewed by those who have a reasonable business need to review the materials, but they cannot be disseminated. Before allowing anyone not on the search committee to review the materials, a secure location should be identified and appropriate confidential information redacted

Cases may occur in which a member of the search committee knows an applicant either personally or professionally. These relationships should be disclosed to the other members of the search committee.

There should be consistency between interviews. Specifically, the same set of pre-determined interview questions should be asked and the same panel should be present for each interview. Additionally, interviews should be conducted in the same format. For example, if a phone interview is the first round of interviews, all applicants should be interviewed by phone, including internal applicants that may be on campus. Occasionally, exceptions may be made when a phone interview has to be conducted due to a candidate’s geographic location or other extenuating circumstance. These interviews should still follow the same format as the in-person interviews with consistent panels and questions. Additionally, the overall interview experience should be as consistent as possible between applicants, including meals, job talks, or meetings with other University employees.

Yes, it is important to ensure fairness and consistency to all applicants during the screening and selection process. There should be consistent treatment of applicants at each stage of the selection process. For example, if on-campus tours are offered to candidates, internal candidates should be offered the same opportunities.

An evaluation rubric is a tool to ensure applicants are being evaluated consistently against the qualifications. A matrix can be set up in whatever way best serves the committee/supervisor, but the most common version includes a listing of applicants, a listing of qualifications, and documentation either through check marks or a numerical scale, of what qualifications the candidates meet or lack.

While there is no minimum number of the total applicants, or applicants selected for interviews, that is needed to receive interview approval, we encourage you to interview more than one candidate if they meet the required qualifications.