Washington DC Service/Companion Animals and Employee Rights

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Many people with physical and mental disabilities rely on service animals to help them complete their daily tasks and assist them with work. For example, a blind worker may rely on a dog to navigate them, and a person with a psychiatric condition may rely on a companion animal to soothe them or prevent them from engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Service animals play an important role in the lives of disabled workers.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Such accommodations may include allowing service animals to accompany a person to their workplace.

Unfortunately, some Washington DC business owners fail to adhere to the ADA and prevent those with disabilities from taking their service animals into the workplace. Contact an employment attorney from the Spiggle Law Firm if your boss violated your Washington DC service/companion animals and employee rights.

Qualifying a Service Animal

According to the ADA, a service animal is usually a dog or miniature horse which is trained to perform tasks or do work for a person with a disability. Service animals are not the same as emotional support pets, which are intended to provide comfort and companionship to those suffering from psychiatric or emotional problems. Although they may have therapeutic benefits, emotional support animals are not trained to perform certain tasks.

Under the employment discrimination sections of the ADA, an employer may be required to allow a worker to utilize a service dog at work as a “reasonable accommodation.” However, business owners do not necessarily have to allow a person to bring their emotional support animal to work. Unless bringing a service animal to work would create an undue hardship for the company, an employer must allow their disabled employees to do so. Otherwise, they could be held liable for breaching a worker’s Washington DC Service/companion animals and employee rights.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

In most cases, if a person wants to bring their service animal to work, they need to request a reasonable accommodation from their boss. The request must usually be submitted in writing so it can remain on record. In the letter, an employee must describe their disability and how their service animal can work as an accommodation. They may also need to describe how their service animal will assist them at work.

It may be imperative for an employee to explain to their employer how they intend to meet the needs of the service animal while at work. Some employers may request proof that the service animal in question is capable of performing a certain function and safe for other workers to be around.

Request Denials

If an employer denies a request to bring a service animal to work, the disabled employee may be able to take legal action. If their request is denied for no reason, the worker could file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) with the help of a skilled lawyer who can advocate for their Washington DC Service/companion animals and employee rights.

Ask an Attorney about Washington DC Service/Companion Animals and Employee Rights

If your employer has refused to allow your service animal to assist you at work, you may have a valid claim. Local business owners are legally obligated to provide you with reasonable accommodations. Contact qualified legal counsel today to discuss your case if your boss violated your Washington DC Service/companion animals and employee rights.