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Life-Threatening Diseases

Policy Number: HR-10
Effective Date: July 2002
Revisions: June 2002, April 1999, January 1994
Responsible Officer: Senior Vice President of Student Life & Administrative Services


This policy was established to provide guidelines to ensure a safe work environment for employees who contract a life-threatening disease and want to continue working.



While some employees suffering from life-threatening diseases may wish to continue working, the University also recognizes that it must satisfy its legal obligation to provide a safe environment for all employees, students, and other visitors. As long as employees who have life-threatening diseases are able to maintain acceptable performance standards in accordance with established University policies and procedures, and the weight of medical evidence continues to indicate that the applicable disease cannot be transmitted by casual workplace contact, they will be permitted to work. Such individuals have the same rights as other qualified individuals with disabilities to participate in University programs, or access to classrooms or other facilities if s/he is capable of using such facilities, programs or services, with or without reasonable accommodation. In determining such an employee's ability to continue employment, the University will make reasonable accommodation to the employee's disability, consistent with applicable federal, state, and local laws.



This policy applies to all employees, faculty and students.



  1. Reasonable Accommodation
    In accordance with applicable law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to persons with a life-threatening disease in appropriate situations. Generally, an individual with a life-threatening disease may request accommodation, in the form of a change in schedule, modification of nonessential job or other assignment, facility accessibility modifications, etc., as long as such accommodation is reasonable, does not require undue financial or programmatic hardship, and does not require a fundamental alteration in the job or the nature of the program offering. An individual with a life-threatening disease requesting an accommodation is obligated to inform the University of her/his condition and the nature of the accommodation that may be necessary, and to provide suitable documentation if requested.
  2. Individual Responsibility
    Individuals with a life-threatening disease and individuals who believe that they may have been infected with a life-threatening disease must conduct themselves in a responsible manner for their own protection and the protection of other members of the University community. Such individuals are encouraged to seek proper medical care, counseling, education and other support services. Individuals who believe that they may be infected should consult a physician and are encouraged to undergo testing, if appropriate. While the University recognizes each individual's responsibility in this regard, the University reserves the right to take steps necessary to protect the health and safety of the University community and the individual with the life-threatening disease within the limitations of the law.
  3. Confidentiality
    To the extent possible, the University will maintain the confidentiality and privacy of any student or employee who has a life-threatening disease. Accordingly, such information should be handled with the same degree of care and sensitivity as is accorded to other types of highly confidential medical information. As with other medical conditions, no information concerning an individual's health status should be provided to employees or students (or the individual's family) without the individual's express written consent. Exceptions to this general rule may be made however, to the extent required to protect the public health or as otherwise required or permitted by law.
  4. Testing
    No individual will be required to undergo testing or screening for a life-threatening disease as a condition of enrollment, employment, or the receipt of financial or other services except where special job or academic-related circumstances exist. Consistent with the provisions in this policy regarding confidentiality, where an individual must submit the results of a life-threatening disease test or screen to the University, such results will be held in the strictest confidence unless written approval to release such information is obtained from the individual or as otherwise permitted by law.
  5. Safety Precautions And Procedures
    Employees or students who may reasonably anticipate exposure to potentially infectious material due to the nature of their job or academic program (e.g. laboratory classes, sponsored research or fieldwork) must follow federal, state, and local health and safety regulations. These regulations include the formal guidelines issued by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) pathogens standard. It is the responsibility of each department head, program administrator or academic faculty member/instructor to adopt and follow these regulations. Additional Information: Inquiries related to accommodation or discrimination can be directed to the Office of Administrative Services. Inquiries related to safety and health can be directed to the Safety and Health Office.