Service Animals in the Workplace & Title I (video)
You know, sometimes I think I'm the luckiest dog in the world. I mean, I have the coolest job.
Service animals like me get to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to live independently and more people are utilizing service animals than ever before.
We service animals, are trained to perform many tasks to assist a person with a disability.
We can guide a person who is blind or has low vision, alert a person with hearing loss to certain sounds, (bicycle bell rings) pick up or retrieve objects and so much more.
We're able to help our handlers in their private lives as well as at their workplace.
But bringing a service animal to work is a little different than bringing a service animal to a public place.
See, whereas some sections of the ADA have definitions of service animals for both public and private places, the Employment section of the ADA, Title One, does not.
So, animals other than dogs and miniature horses may also be considered in the workplace. (horse neighing)
Because Title One does not specifically address service animals, an employee needs to make a request for one, just like with any other request for reasonable accommodation.
So, it is up to the employer to consider the request and to allow employees to bring their service animals to work.
The ADA allows employers to choose among a variety of effective accommodations for their employees.
So rather than a service animal, an employer might opt for another accommodation.
However, this could lead to other tricky issues because there are just some things that a service animal can provide that other types of accommodations simply cannot, such as a sense of security, independence, and confidence.
A service animal may also help out with very personal medical issues which their handler would prefer to keep private.
In making their decision, the employer may need more information regarding the employee's disability and how the service animal's presence will affect the duties of the job.
Generally, employers are expected to grant the accommodation request if the employee's disability and the service animal's function are related, the service animal will improve the worker's ability to perform their job, the animal has had sufficient training to not be a disruptive presence in the workplace, and the accommodation does not present an undue hardship.
Like I said, I love my job, perhaps I'll catch you around the office.