Employers have an obligation to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities under the ADA. That means that employers generally must allow the use of suitably trained service animals by their employees. But what happens when that animal causes another employee to become ill because of allergies? Can you ban the animal?
The ADA requires Employers to engage in an interactive process with their employees. Before banning the animal sit down with both employees and explore:
- Can the employees work in different parts of the building;
- Can the animal be confined to certain hallways that the allergic employee won’t use;
- Will allergy filters in the animal’s work space and the allergic employee’s work space solve the problem;
- Will extra thorough cleaning of work spaces solve the problem;
- Will extra grooming of the animal solve the problem;
- Can the employees work flexible – differing schedules to eliminate exposure to the animal;
- Is telecommuting an option for either employee?
If all of these options are explored and fail — then and only then should the employer take the position that use of the service animal cannot be reasonably accommodated.
Jeanelle R. Lust