Posts Tagged ‘dogs in the office’

Service Dogs in the Office: How to Make It Work Most employers are in the dark about employees who require the assistance of service dogs and there are questions such as “what if the dog bites?” or “how will those allergic to dog hair react?” to name two of the most commonly asked. There are actually ways to integrate service dogs into a workplace while protecting the legal rights and ensuring the safety of both the employers and the employees.

One of the major concerns that an employer would have to address regarding service dogs in the office is the possibility of allergies. Although only around 10% of people are allergic to dogs, the situation should be mitigated. One airline that has done a study on air exchange and air flow has reported that service dogs aboard aircraft should be in a place that is five rows or more from the passenger who has the allergy.

How Things Can Work with Service Dogs in the Office Employers should be aware that they may be held liable if an animal is allowed in the office and injures employees, customers or just about anybody who happens to be in the workplace like the pizza delivery boy or the CEO of a potential investor. The only solution to this is to ask the owner to get insurance coverage for injuries which may be caused by his/her service dog.

In cases of damage to company property – including computers, carpets, furniture, office equipment, and even files – insurance would be one way of rectifying the situation; indemnification would be another in the form of financial reimbursement if the service dog destroys personal property of another employee that was, rightfully, in the workplace. The service dog’s owner could also cover the damages.

An employer who is okay with service dogs in the office, but leases office space would have to ask permission from the building owner before the canines are allowed inside. If you aren’t too clear on any policy of the building owner regarding the presence of service dogs in the premises, read the lease agreement again. If there is a policy that states animals are not allowed in the building, negotiate or compromise.

Although the jury has yet to decide whether or not an allergy to animals may be classified a disability as per the ADA of 1990, an employer has to ensure that he/she does not commit a violation of the ADA. If you are caught in a dilemma in which one employee requires the service dog and another has an allergy to dogs, it may be best to keep the dog and his/her owner far from the allergic employee.

Conditions in Which Service Dogs Won’t Be Allowed in the Workplace The employer has the right to deny the request of a disabled employee to bring his/her service dog to the workplace only if any or all of certain conditions are applicable. The employer must be aware, however, that in conditions such as those below, the burden of proof is laid on the employer and not his/her employee:

The service animal, as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or other laws relevant to it, does not meet the definition. The service animal’s presence would be an interference with the ability of the employer to conduct or transact business. The employee has not been deemed qualified as an individual with disability as per the ADA, state law or the Rehabilitation Act. The employer will be unduly burdened by the service animal’s presence.

How Things Can Work with Service Dogs in the Office Employers should be aware that they may be held liable if an animal is allowed in the office and injures employees, customers or just about anybody who happens to be in the workplace like the pizza delivery boy or the CEO of a potential investor. The only solution to this is to ask the owner to get insurance coverage for injuries which may be caused by his/her service dog.

In cases of damage to company property – including computers, carpets, furniture, office equipment, and even files – insurance would be one way of rectifying the situation; indemnification would be another in the form of financial reimbursement if the service dog destroys personal property of another employee that was, rightfully, in the workplace. The service dog’s owner could also cover the damages.

An employer who is okay with service dogs in the office but leases office space would have to ask permission from the building owner before the canines are allowed inside. If you aren’t too clear on any policy of the building owner regarding the presence of service dogs in the premises, read the lease agreement again. If there is a policy that states animals are not allowed in the building, negotiate or compromise.

Although the jury has yet to decide whether or not an allergy to animals may be classified a disability as per the ADA of 1990, an employer has to ensure that he/she does not commit a violation of the ADA. If you are caught in a dilemma in which one employee requires the service dog and another has an allergy to dogs, it may be best to keep the dog and his/her owner far from the allergic employee.

[Editor’s Note: Please be aware that this material does not serve as legal advice. As with all blog content discussing landlord-tenant legalities, be sure to consult Federal and State laws specific to your area before implementing any of this advice into your practices.]