Employers may need to allow bringing a service dog to work

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2020 | Firm News

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Minnesota companies must provide a reasonable accommodation when a disabled employee requests one. If an individual requires assistance from a service animal, he or she may bring it to work in many cases.

As noted by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, service dogs undergo training to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. They can assist disabled individuals and provide relief from medical conditions. In cases of mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, a service animal may have the ability to soothe and comfort its owner during an anxiety attack.

An employee has a right to request a service dog accommodation

An employee with a disability requiring the assistance of a service dog to complete his or her job tasks may request bringing it to work. The worker may need to describe how the animal provides assistance in performing job-related functions.

When presented with a reasonable request, an employer must comply under the ADA and Minnesota law. Employers may deny the worker’s request, however, if a service dog would cause an undue hardship to the organization. A significant expense or burden, such as remodeling the workplace, may prove a legitimate denial.

Refusal of a reasonable request may bring an ADA discrimination lawsuit

A former Air Force Reserve officer worked as an administrative assistant and experienced chronic PTSD symptoms related to a traumatic military incident. She made a request to bring her service dog to work. The black Labrador retriever would have provided her with comfort and relief from the nausea, muscle tension and rapid heartbeat she experienced at work.

As reported by the Star Tribune, she filed a legal action alleging discrimination after her employer repeatedly denied her request for an accommodation. The lawsuit settled for $75,000. The employer also agreed to change its policies and provide anti-discrimination training.