Service and Support Animals in the Workplace

What is a service animal?

While other sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) strictly define service animals as a dog, the employment section of the ADA (Title I) does not. This may lead to confusion when making or responding to a request to bring an animal to work. Dogs or other animals, including emotional support animals, can be considered a reasonable accommodation if the animal provides some type of disability-related service or support.

Myths and misconceptions

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding service and support animals. Get the facts by visiting our Service Animal Resource Hub Misconceptions

Can I take my service or support animal to work? Or, is my employee allowed to bring a service or support animal to work?

Maybe. Under Title I of the ADA, service animals or other types of support animals in the workplace are considered a form of reasonable accommodation. An employee must request that the animal be allowed on the job as an accommodation for their disability. As part of the Employment Resource Hub the ADA National Network has a Guide To Requesting a Reasonable Accommodation, which provides more information about this process. The employer also has the right to require that the service animal be trained to be in a workplace and capable of functioning appropriately in the work environment.

Who is responsible for taking care of and monitoring the service or support animal at work?

The employee is responsible for caring for and monitoring the animal while in the workplace. However, as part of the reasonable accommodation, the employer may need to allow time for the employee to take the service or support animal outdoors. As part of the interactive reasonable accommodation process, the employer and employee should discuss the expectations and details of the animal’s monitoring and care.

Some individuals are allergic to dogs. What is the best way to approach this?

A simple and effective strategy would be one that separates the service or support animal from the employee experiencing allergies. In most cases, another employee’s mild allergy is not a sufficient reason to decline a reasonable accommodation request for a service or support animal.

Additional resources from the ADA National Network

The ADA National Network developed the Service Animal Resource Hub to centralize our resources related to service animals. This includes service animal basics and even a page on Taking a Service Animal to Work. You can also explore our page of frequently asked questions related to employment and the ADA here.