As a supervisor, you are the key to creating a culture of inclusivity and ensuring that your employees’ rights are respected. You also have significant responsibility for ensuring that the University complies with the law and creates an environment that is welcoming and inclusive.
Specific duties and responsibilities of a University supervisor
Every supervisor of employees has responsibility to take reasonable steps intended to prevent acts of unlawful discrimination or harassment, which include, but are not limited to:
- Monitoring the work and school environment for signs that unlawful discrimination or harassment may be occurring;
- Refraining from participation in, or encouragement of actions that could be perceived as unlawful discrimination or harassment (verbal or otherwise);
- Stopping any observed acts that may be considered unlawful discrimination or harassment, and taking appropriate steps to intervene, whether or not the involved individuals are within their line of supervision; and
- Taking immediate action to minimize or eliminate the work and/or school contact between the involved individuals where there has been a complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment, pending investigation.
If a supervisor receives a complaint of unlawful discrimination or harassment, or observes or becomes aware of conduct that may constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment, the supervisor must immediately contact the Title IX Coordinator to provide the information about the conduct, to discuss it and/or to report the action taken. Failure to take action to prevent the occurrence of or stop known unlawful discrimination or harassment may be grounds for disciplinary action against the supervisor.
The supervisor role under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
As a supervisor, you are the key to creating a culture of inclusivity and ensuring that your employees’ ADA rights are respected. You also have significant responsibility for ensuring that the University complies with the law and reduces liability for claims. The key to employing individuals with disabilities is creating an inclusive work environment that welcomes and values everyone’s contributions.
As supervisors, you are often the first to learn of situations in which accommodation would be advisable. No "magic" words are required. The employee doesn’t need to mention the ADA or use the phrase 'reasonable accommodation." If an employee is perceived as having difficulty performing their job and they do not reference a medical condition, it may be a non-visible disability. An employee with a disability must meet the same standards that are applied to similarly situated colleagues; however, reasonable accommodation may be required to assist the employee in meeting these standards.
You can ask, “Is there anything we can do to support you in meeting the performance requirements?” This shows our willingness to work with employees to help them be successful and is a good practice for all of our employees. If the employee’s response indicates that a medical condition is causing work challenges, this may be sufficient to put the University on notice. You should inform them of potential accommodations available through the office of Equal Opportunity and Title IX.
- The ADA may be implicated anytime the following occur:
- The employee raises issues of injury, illness or medical condition affecting job performance (e.g., they are having trouble doing something in the workplace because of a physical or mental health condition)
- The employee is close to or has run out of all available paid leave, or
- The employee provides a doctor’s note with work restrictions.
- Supervisors may not disclose that an employee is receiving a reasonable accommodation to other employees, because this may disclose that the individual has a disability. If a coworker inquires about what is perceived to be “special treatment," point out that it is our policy to do what we can to assist employees. Explain that these types of situations may be personal, and it is the University’s policy to maintain confidentiality in personnel matters.
- Equality, inclusivity and diversity are core values of the University. As such, accessibility in its many different forms is important and imperative. Supervisors, like all community partners, have an important role in ensuring that the University of Nevada, Reno remains a welcoming and inclusive campus for all.