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Reasonable Accommodation Procedure

In order to be in compliance with Washington State Law and current RCWs we have revised the procedures below.  (See previous policy.)



  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),
  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973,
  • Executive Order 96-042.1,
  • RCW 49.60,
  • WAC 357-26,
  • WAC 357-46,
  • WAC 357-52,
  • WAC 162-22,
  • Article 29 of the State of Washington and WPEA Higher Education

Revised:  December, 26, 2007


This policy affirms the commitment of the Highline College to provide reasonable accommodations for applicants or employees with disabilities in order to ensure equal terms, benefits, privileges, and conditions of employment.  This policy sets forth the provisions for meeting reasonable accommodation requirements of State and Federal law.  This policy shall not be construed as providing rights or obligations greater than those provided by applicable laws.


Equal Employment Opportunity:  An opportunity to perform the essential job functions or to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment available to a similarly situated employee without a disability.

Essential Functions:  The essential functions of a job are those job duties that are so fundamental to the position that the individual cannot do the job without being able to perform them.  A function can be essential if, among other things, the position exists specifically to perform that function, there are a limited number of other employees who could perform the function if it were assigned to them, or the function is specialized and the incumbent is hired based on his/her ability to perform it.  Essential functions are not the marginal functions of the job.   

Disability:  “the presence of a sensory, mental or physical impairment that:  (i) is medically cognizable or diagnosable; or (ii) exists as a record or history; or (iii) is perceived to exist whether or not it exists in fact.  A disability exists whether it is temporary or permanent, common or uncommon, mitigated or unmitigated, or whether or not it limits the ability to work generally or work at a particular job or whether or not it limits any other activity within the scope of this chapter.”  RCW 49.60.040 (25). 

Qualified Individual with a Disability:  A person with a disability who meets the skills, experience, education, and other job-related requirements of the position held or desired and who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential job functions.

Reasonable Accommodation:  Modification or adjustment to a job, work environment, policy, practice, or procedure that enables a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the position.  There are three categories of reasonable accommodations:

  • modifications or adjustments to a job application process to permit an individual with a disability to be considered for a job;
  • modifications or adjustments necessary to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job; and
  • modifications or adjustments that enable employees with disabilities to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.

Undue Hardship:  Highline College does not have to provide reasonable accommodations that would impose an undue hardship on the operation of Highline College.  An undue hardship means that a specific accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense.  This determination is made on a case-by-case basis considering factors such as the nature and cost of the accommodation and the impact of the accommodation on the operations of Highline College.   

Highline College Shall Provide Reasonable Accommodations For Persons With Disabilities

Highline College will provide reasonable accommodations required by law to the known physical, mental and sensory impairments of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities on a case by case basis.  Reasonable accommodations will be provided to enable an employee with a disability to enjoy terms, benefits, privileges and conditions of employment equal to those enjoyed by similarly situated non-disabled employees.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodation

Generally, the employee should inform Highline College that she/he has an impairment and that there is a need for an accommodation.  The request may be made either verbally or in writing and should be made to the employee’s immediate supervisor, a supervisor or manager in the immediate chain of command, or the Human Resources Department.  The request for accommodation does not need to contain specific terms or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.”   A family member, health professional, or other representative may request a reasonable accommodation on behalf of the employee with a disability.  Where possible, Highline College will confirm with the person with a disability that he/she in fact wants a reasonable accommodation.

The Need Or Request For Reasonable Accommodation Will Not Adversely Affect An Individual’s Employment Opportunities

The need for a reasonable accommodation shall not adversely affect the consideration of an individual with a disability for employment, training, promotion, travel, participation in projects, committees, developmental work assignments, or any opportunity to enjoy equal terms, benefits, privileges, and conditions of employment, including an employee’s career development.

The Interactive Process

The reasonable accommodation process is interactive and requires cooperation and communication between the individual requesting an accommodation and Highline College.  Employees actively participate in the accommodation process by communicating their needs and interests, attending any meetings that may be necessary to discuss the accommodation request, and providing any necessary medical documentation as discussed below.

Medical Verification of the Disability and Resulting Limitations

When an applicant or employee makes a request for a reasonable accommodation and the disability and/or the need for reasonable accommodation is not obvious, Highline College may request that the applicant or employee provide information from his/her health care professional related to the diagnosis and the impairment(s) and the functional limitations resulting from the impairment(s) as they relate to the performance of the essential functions of his or her position.  Such information will be secured on the employee’s own time, and at their own expense.

Highline College May Obtain An Independent Medical Examination

Highline College may determine that it is necessary to obtain additional medical information in order to properly evaluate and respond to a request for reasonable accommodation when the information submitted by the employee is insufficient or does not clearly explain the nature of the impairment or the functional limitations caused by the impairment as they relate to the performance of the essential functions of his or her position , or does not otherwise clarify how the requested accommodation will assist the employee to perform the essential functions of the job or to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.  Under such circumstances, Highline College may require the applicant or employee to obtain a medical examination, at Highline College’s expense, from a qualified independent health care provider selected by Highline College.  The purpose of such examination shall be limited to determining the existence of a disability and the functional limitations caused by the disability that may require reasonable accommodation.

Information About An Individual’s Disability Will Be Treated As Confidential

All information regarding the presence, or nature of an employee’s or applicant’s disability will be treated as a confidential medical record and shall be maintained in a secure file separate from the employee’s personnel file with access restricted to designated personnel on a need to know basis.

Reasonable Accommodations Will Be Provided In Every Stage Of The Recruitment, Application, And Selection Process

Qualified applicants with a disability shall have an equal opportunity to be considered for a job.  Notification of the right to make an accommodation request and information on how to initiate such a request will be included with all announcements, bulletins and recruitment efforts.

Individuals Will Be Consulted Before Reasonable Accommodation Is Offered

In all cases, the applicant or employee will be consulted before a reasonable accommodation is offered.  In determining what reasonable accommodation to offer, Highline College will evaluate a request, taking into consideration the individual’s specific disability and their existing limitations, the essential duties of the position, the barriers to job performances and assess how an accommodation may overcome these barriers.

Highline College may consult with other knowledgeable sources to identify potential accommodations and assess how effective each would be in enabling the individual to perform essential job functions.  After considering the preference of the individual with a disability, Highline College will select the accommodation to be provided.

When Unable To Accommodate An Employee In His Or Her Present Position, Highline College Will Attempt To Accommodate The Employee Through Reassignment To Another Vacant Position Within Highline College

Reassignment is a form of reasonable accommodation that must be provided, absent undue hardship, to an employee who, because of a disability, can no longer perform the essential functions of the position she/he holds, with or without reasonable accommodation.  Reassignment is only available to employees, not applicants.  Reassignment will only be made to a vacant position for which the employee qualifies.  The employee is qualified if he/she satisfies the requisite skills, experience, education and other job related requirements of the position, and the employee can perform the essential functions of the position with or without a reasonable accommodation.

Reassignment means that the employee with a disability is offered the vacant position without competing for it.  The vacant position must be at the same pay range or lower.  If an employee is reassigned to a position at a lower pay range, the employee’s salary will be adjusted downward to the pay range for the new position.

Highline College's Responsibility Is Limited To Accommodation(s) That Do Not Create An Undue Hardship On The Operations Of The Department

If an accommodation would impose an undue hardship, Highline College will do the following:

I. Consider whether there are alternative accommodations' that would not impose such hardship.

II. Provide written justification, signed by the Director of Highline College or designee, for the decision not to provide an accommodation because of undue hardship.

Denials of Reasonable Accommodation

When Highline College denies a request for reasonable accommodation, Highline College will notify the individual in writing of the denial and reasons for such denial.

Employees Who Believe They Have Not Been Provided With Reasonable Accommodation Have Several Options For Dispute Resolution

Any person with a disability who was denied reasonable accommodation or who feels discriminated against in the application of this policy may file a formal complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission (HRC) and/or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 


Policies and Procedures

Table of Contents

Related information
  • Highline College Washington Administrative Code (WAC) WAC 1321

  • Community & Technical Colleges Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
    RCW 28B.50