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Life-Threatening Diseases

Policy Number: HR-10
Effective Date: April 2014
Responsible Officer: President, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University


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


This policy applies to all Professional Staff Members and Students.


Implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Department of Human Resources.


The President of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the official responsible for the administration of this policy.


While some Professional Staff Members suffering from life-threatening diseases may wish to continue working, the Academy also recognizes that it must satisfy its legal obligation to provide a safe environment for all Professional Staff Members, students, and visitors. As long as Professional Staff Members who have life-threatening diseases are able to maintain acceptable performance standards in accordance with established Academy 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 Academy programs, or access to facilities if s/he is capable of using such facilities, programs or services, with or without reasonable accommodation. In determining a Professional Staff Member's ability to continue employment, the Academy will make reasonable accommodation to the Professional Staff Member's disability, consistent with applicable federal, state, and local laws.


Professional Staff Member is defined as an individual employed in any non-faculty category by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, including an individual who is deemed to be either exempt or non-exempt under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or applicable state law.


  1. Reasonable Accommodation

    In accordance with applicable law, the Academy 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 Academy 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 Academy 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 Academy recognizes each individual's responsibility in this regard, the Academy reserves the right to take steps necessary to protect the health and safety of the Academy community and the individual with the life-threatening disease within the limitations of the law.

  3. Confidentiality

    To the extent possible, the Academy will maintain the confidentiality and privacy of any Student or Professional Staff Member 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 Professional Staff Members 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 Academy, 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

    Professional Staff Members or students who may reasonably anticipate exposure to potentially infectious material due to the nature of their job or program (e.g., laboratory, 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, or program administrator 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.


Notwithstanding anything to the contrary stated in this policy, nothing herein is intended to alter the at-will status of any Professional Staff Member. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University at all times retains the right to terminate any Professional Staff Member at any time for any lawful reason, or for no reason at all.