Is your service animal allowed in the workplace?

The saying “dog is man’s best friend” is more than just a cliché. It has become very common to have service animals accompany disabled employees in a number of public places, including grocery stores, shopping malls and even airports.

In employment venues, service animals generally may accompany employees, and disabled employees may have a legally protected right to have their animals with them. The case of a Washington state based trucking company and its attempts to exclude an employee’s service animal exemplifies this protection. 

According to an report, the employee duly requested to have a service animal trained to alert when the employee’s blood sugar dropped; thereby helping to avoid diabetic shock. The trucking company, through its HR manager and CEO, denied multiple requests for a reasonable accommodation, explaining that if the service animal was admitted, other employees would want to have their animals in the workplace.

In holding the trucking company liable, the court reasoned that the employer failed to show that having the service dog in the workplace would present an unreasonable risk to property or other workers. Simply being annoyed with the specter of a service animal in the office was not a sufficient reason to deny the employee’s request; especially given the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the job with (or without) the accommodation.

Indeed, what constitutes a reasonable accommodation may differ between employees and employers. Because of this, employees who have difficulties obtaining such accommodations should consult an experienced employment law attorney.

The preceding is not legal advice. 

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