We are fielding an increasing number of employer inquiries about how to deal with a request by an employee to allow a service animal at work as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), especially in the context of providing emotional support.
As a threshold matter, a request for a service animal at work should be treated like any other request for a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Stated another way, there are situations where allowing a service animal may in fact constitute an ADA reasonable accommodation. Thus, employers should not assume that such a request is unreasonable on its face.
Given the fact that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces the ADA, is prepared to sue an employer for failing to allow a service animal at work, we thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the topic. Unfortunately, there is very little guidance from the EEOC on service animals as a reasonable accommodation, and we are aware of only two federal court rulings – both by federal district courts – addressing the issue directly.
Accordingly, NT Lakis lawyers have prepared a guide that provides an overview of the topic and then presents some practical considerations to keep in mind when considering a request for a service animal at work. As always, this guide is not intended to serve as legal advice, and employers are encouraged to consult with their legal counsel when a specific issue arises.
Members of the Center for Workplace Compliance (CWC) can read more here.