Can I take my service animal to work? Or, is my employee allowed to bring a service animal to work?
Maybe. Title I of the ADA covers employment. Under Title I, service animals are considered a reasonable accommodation. An employee must request that the service animal be present as an accommodation for their disability.
What is Title I?
The ADA is divided into five sections called “titles.” Each title covers a different area. Title I covers employment and applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Some state and local laws may require that employers with fewer employees provide reasonable accommodations. Title I ensures that covered entities do not discriminate against a qualified individual with a disability. This applies to job application procedures, hiring, advancement and discharge of employees, worker's compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.
What is a reasonable accommodation?
A reasonable accommodation is any change to the application or hiring process, to the job, to the way the job is done, or the work environment that allows a person with a disability who is qualified for the job to perform the essential functions of that job and enjoy equal employment opportunities. In order to determine what is reasonable, an employer must look at the request made by the applicant or employee with a disability. Whether or not an accommodation is reasonable will vary according to the position the employee holds, the way their disability affects their ability to do their job, and the environment that they work in. Accommodations are considered “reasonable” if they do not create an undue hardship or a direct threat.
A few examples include restructuring a job, modifying work schedules, and acquiring or modifying equipment. Changes to a “no animals” policy, in order to welcome an employee’s service animal or emotional support animal, are also reasonable accommodations.
Read this ADA National Network factsheet about the obligations of employers and the interactive process of requesting and obtaining or providing a reasonable accommodation.
Does Title I define a service animal as a dog?
Under Title II and III of the ADA, only dogs are considered service animals. (There is a separate provision allowing for miniature horses subject to certain limitations.) Other animals, either wild or domestic, are not service animals. However, under Title I, in the workplace, there is no such definition and technically no limit to what type of animal can be a reasonable accommodation. This means that accommodating an emotional support animal may be an appropriate reasonable accommodation.
How can I learn more about service animals in the workplace?
- Does the employer automatically have to allow a service animal into the workplace if requested by an employee?
- What if the service animal is needed only to support the employee’s travel to and from work, and is not needed to perform the job?
- Who is responsible for taking care of and monitoring the service animal at work?
JAN Service Animal Resources
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) helps individuals with disabilities understand their rights regarding reasonable accommodations and helps employers capitalize on the value and talent that individuals with disabilities add to the workplace. Check out the Accommodation and Compliance Series: Service Animals as Workplace Accommodations. This comprehensive page answers questions from both the employer and employee perspective, includes some accommodation examples, and provides scenarios and solutions. It also provides a list of other JAN resources related to service animals.