Notes On: Making Room for Fido at Work: Animals in the workplace as Reasonable Accommodations

Source: James Kizziar and Amber Dodds, Labor Law Journal, Vol. 65 no. 4, Winter 2014
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Matthew is a pretty good employee, with the exception of a few emotional outbursts in his tenure. You have disciplined him for yelling at work a couple of times but he performs his job duties well. Recently, another employee told you that Matthew has been bringing his dog to work and hiding it under his desk. Although the other employee does nor mind, she mentioned that the dog is usually unleashed and once peed in the office (which Matthew promptly cleaned up). When you approach Matthew about not bringing his dog to the office, he responds “I have a service animal card, so I can bring him to the office.” Should or must Matthew be allowed to bring his dog to the office?

This situation is becoming more and more common as animals, usually dogs, are used as therapy companions for an increasing variety of medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, adjustment disorder, and anxiety. Employers should interpret requests by employees to bring animals to work as reasonable accommodation requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and engage in the interactive process to determine whether the accommodation may be granted or denied. ….