Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals in the Workplace
As cute as they may be, both service animals and emotional support animals alike have very important jobs: to guide their handlers throughout the day and to provide the therapeutic benefits of companionship to their handlers. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) currently allows a trained service animal, most commonly a dog, to accompany its handler throughout the day and to different locations. One of these locations is in the handler’s place of work, where the employee’s right to a service animal is protected under federal law. There are some things both the handler as an employee and the employer should know about service animals in the workplace:
- Handlers – The handler is actively responsible for supervising and caring for the service animal. The service animal must be kept on a leash, a harness, or any other tether which gives the handler control. If this is not possible due to the severity of the handler’s disability, s/he must control the service animal by some other means, such as by voice. It is required that the service animal be housebroken, as well as vaccinated per both the state and local laws.
- Employers – As previously mentioned, an accompanying service animal in the handler’s workplace is protected under federal law. It is unlawful and illegal for employers discriminate based on disability. As employers are to provide their employees reasonable accommodations, a service animal in the handler’s place of employment may be considered as such. However, if the disability and/or the need for the service animal is unclear to the employer, s/he may request documentation which clearly defines the disability and how the service animal aids in the handler’s ability to work. However, an individual service animal may be banned from the workplace with reason, usually if the service animal currently is or has been seen as a threat, or if the service animal has created difficulty in the workplace.
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This post was written by Sperling