Foley & Foley, PC August 31, 2022
We all love our pets. And for some people, pets could include alligators, snakes, ducks–you name it. Some people need their pets or animals for emotional support. Others need a service animal, not a pet, to help perform their job. Do you have to let animals into your workplace?
First, what is the difference? The ADA specifically addresses service animals and defines dogs under that category (and in some cases, small horses). Generally speaking, service animals help to perform a task or tasks to assist an employee perform a job. The ADA does not specifically address animals in the workplace, outside of service dogs. But the Act requires an employer to consider a reasonable accommodation based for a disabled worker. If a physician or mental health provider prescribes an emotional support snake, must you comply?
Not likely. Let’s not forget that reasonable accommodation–even if a snake is prescribed for anxiety–has limits. In the case of animals at work, the guidelines are clear: You do not have to automatically accommodate emotional support animals. Plus, there are specific guidelines on service animals in the workplace. Whether the request is for a supportive snake or a seeing-eye dog, gentle readers know the score: engage in the interactive dialogue. The process required under the ADA must be followed. Remember, the employee is not entitled to their first-choice accommodation. Remote work or flexible hours might work just as well, and the snake stays at home.