II. Definitions

  1. Academic Adjustments: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”) requires CUNY to provide academic adjustments to qualified students with disabilities by (a) modifying academic requirements unless such requirements are essential to the instruction being pursued or to any directly related licensing requirement; (b) ensuring that course examinations for students with disabilities reflect their achievement in the course and not their disabilities; (c) taking steps to ensure that a qualified student is not excluded from participation or discriminated against because of the absence of educational auxiliary aids; and (d) ensuring that no rules have the effect of limiting the participation of students with disabilities in any educational program or activity.
  2. ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) guarantees individuals with disabilities access to employment, public accommodations, transportation, public services and telecommunications and provides such individuals with civil rights protections. Title II of the ADA, which applies to public entities such as CUNY, prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability in all services, programs, and activities provided to the public by state and local governments.
  3. 504/ ADA Coordinator: Each College or unit at CUNY, including the University’s Central Office (the “Central Office”), has a 504/ADA Coordinator whose contact information is available on the College or University website. The 504/ADA Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that disability accommodation requests from employees, prospective employees, students and visitors are processed in accordance with CUNY procedures, addressing appeals of accommodations/academic adjustment decisions through mediation or investigation, as necessary, monitoring the CUNY College or unit for 504/ADA compliance, collecting data, and providing information and guidance.
  4. Chief Diversity Officer: Each College or unit at CUNY, including the Central Office, has a Chief Diversity Officer whose contact information is available on the College or University website. The Chief Diversity Officer is responsible for overseeing the unit’s compliance with all laws and regulations related to diversity and inclusion and CUNY’s Policy on Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination, providing guidance and information, and investigating complaints of unlawful discrimination. The Chief Diversity Officer also is responsible for addressing, through mediation or investigation, appeals of accommodations/academic adjustment decisions based on religion and employee/ job applicant appeals of accommodation decisions based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
  5. Disability: CUNY recognizes as a disability any physical, medical, mental or psychological impairment, or a history or record of such impairment, that constitutes a disability under applicable federal, state and New York City law.
  6. Essential functions of the job: Job duties typically, but not exclusively, found on a job description, which are considered fundamental such that the individual cannot do the job without performing them. Qualified employees must be able to reasonably perform the essential functions of a job either with or without a reasonable accommodation.
  7. Interactive Process/Cooperative Dialogue: The interactive process is the procedure through which an employer and an individual requesting an accommodation work together to identify what barriers exist to the individual’s performance of essential functions of a particular job with the intention of finding a reasonable accommodation that would enable the employee to perform the job. The interactive process is a flexible and individualized approach and often includes a review of the individual’s abilities and limitations (including supporting documentation), the essential functions of the job, factors or job tasks that may pose a difficulty, and how the person may be accommodated without creating an undue hardship on the employer. Similarly, with students, the interactive process is when a decision-maker at the campus works with the student to identify existing barriers to the student’s access to academic and non-academic programs and activities at the College with the intention of finding an academic adjustment or reasonable accommodation to address those barriers. CUNY provides an interactive process for all accommodation requests, including requests related to disability, religious practices, pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, and an individual’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offense or stalking. For employee requests related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition, the New York City Commission on Human Rights refers to the interactive process as a “cooperative dialogue”.
  8. New York Education Law § 224-a: New York State Education Law § 224-a provides rights to students who are unable because of religious beliefs to register or attend classes on certain days. The law provides that a student, who is absent from school because of a religious belief, is entitled, without any additional fees, to an equivalent opportunity to register for classes or make up any examination, study or work requirements that the student may have missed because of such absence on any particular day or days.
  9. Qualified Individual with a Disability: An employee or applicant for employment with a disability who satisfies the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements for the position and who can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation. Similarly, for students, a qualified individual with a disability is a student who meets the academic and technical standards required for admission or participation in the chosen program with or without a reasonable accommodation or academic adjustment.
  10. Reasonable Accommodation: Although each accommodation request will be assessed individually, reasonable accommodations, in a general sense, are modifications made to remove workplace barriers and enable qualified individuals to perform their jobs. For qualifying students, reasonable accommodations are adjustments to policy, practice, and programs that “level the playing field” and provide equal access to CUNY’s academic and non-academic programs and activities. Reasonable accommodations are addressed on a case-by-case basis.
  11. Religion: An individual’s sincerely held religious belief or practice of a creed or religion, including all aspects of religious observance, practice and belief, and moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right or wrong, which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views. Religion is defined broadly and includes religious beliefs and practices that may be unfamiliar. “Religion” may consist of a belief system that does not include a traditional concept of God.
  12. Section 504: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in federally-funded programs and activities.
  13. Title IX Coordinator: Each College or unit at CUNY, including the Central Office, has a person who is designated the Title IX Coordinator, whose contact information is available on the College or University website. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for compliance with Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs. The Title IX Coordinator has overall responsibility for implementing CUNY’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, including overseeing the investigation of complaints related to sexual misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator also is responsible for addressing (a) requests for accommodations or academic adjustments based on an individual’s status as a victim of domestic violence, sex offense or stalking and,(b) through mediation or investigation, student appeals of accommodation/academic adjustment decisions based on pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.
  14. Undue Hardship: An undue hardship is an action that would require significant difficulty or expense when considered in light of a number of factors, including the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources, nature and structure of the employer’s operation, or an action that would fundamentally alter policy and procedures, the nature of a job function, and/or the fundamental nature of the academic program. An accommodation need not be granted where it would impose an undue hardship on the College or the University. If a particular accommodation imposes an undue hardship, the College or unit should consider whether an alternative accommodation is available that would not impose an undue hardship.
  15. Pregnancy, Childbirth or a Related Medical Condition: The condition of being pregnant, having a child, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
  16. Victim of Domestic Violence: A person who has been subjected to acts or threats of violence, not including acts of self-defense, committed by a current or former spouse or domestic partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim, by a person who is or has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, or a person who is or has continually or at regular intervals lived in the same household as the victim.
  17. Victim of a Sex Offense or Stalking: A person who has been subjected to acts that would constitute violations of the New York Penal Law concerning sex offenses or stalking.