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Can your service animal accompany you to work?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Employment Law

Diversity and inclusivity are not just buzzwords but essential components of a thriving and equitable environment. One aspect of inclusivity that has gained significant attention in recent years is the accommodation of service animals in the workplace.

Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are recognized as a reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. What does this mean for employers and employees?

Understanding Title I of the ADA

Title I of the ADA addresses employment discrimination against individuals with disabilities. It prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment, including:

  • Recruitment
  • Hiring
  • Promotions
  • Training
  • Termination

Moreover, it requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees or applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship.

Service animals as reasonable accommodations

One of the key provisions of Title I of the ADA is the recognition of service animals as a reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities. A service animal is defined as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disabilities.

If an employee requires the presence of a service animal as a reasonable accommodation for their disability, they must make a formal request to their employer. This request should include documentation of the disability and the need for the service animal, such as a letter from a healthcare provider or a statement from a recognized service animal training organization.

At the end of the day, under Title I of the ADA, service animals are recognized as a reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities in the workplace. Employers are legally obligated to engage in the interactive process with employees who request accommodations for service animals and to provide such accommodations unless doing so would create an undue hardship.