Service Dogs assist people with disabilities, allowing them to participate in daily activities, including the workplace. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employees have the right to bring trained service dogs to work. However, employers can also implement certain limitations and restrictions. Continue reading to understand the rights, benefits, and limitations regarding Service Dogs in the workplace for employees and employers.
Benefits of Allowing Service Dogs in the Workplace
Allowing trained Service Dogs provides many benefits for disabled employees. These include:
Increased Independence and Productivity: Service Dogs allow employees to perform tasks they may not be able to do alone, like retrieving items or opening doors, allowing employees to be more productive.
Reduced Absenteeism: Employees with Service Dogs may require less time off due to disability-related impairments. The dog's assistance allows them to perform their job duties.
Increased Safety: Some Service Dogs are trained to detect seizures or other medical episodes. They can alert the employee and others to provide potentially life-saving assistance.
Improved Morale: Allowing Service Dogs creates an inclusive environment, shows the company values diversity, and supports disabled employees.
The Rights of Individuals with Service Dogs in the Workplace
The ADA protects the rights of individuals with disabilities to use service dogs. Any business or organization covered by the ADA is required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities, including allowing Service Dogs in the workplace.
Employees only need to show that the dog is trained to perform tasks or work related to their disability. They do not need to disclose details about their condition. Under the ADA, some fundamental rights employees have include:
- The right to be accompanied by their Service Dog in any workplace area where employees are typically allowed.
- Employers cannot charge extra fees or deposits for Service Dogs.
- Employers cannot require special ID cards or documentation for Service Dogs. They can only ask if the dog is a service animal required for a disability and what tasks the dog has been trained to perform.
In addition, companies must make necessary modifications to accommodate employees with Service Dogs. Those accommodations might include creating an accessible entrance and providing space where the Service Dog can rest or take breaks.
Limitations and Restrictions Employers Can Implement
While employees have a right to Service Dogs in the workplace, employers can implement some limitations and restrictions:
- Employers can require the handler to remove the dog if it is out of control or disruptive. They may tolerate disability-related disruptions unless the dog poses a direct threat.
- Service Dogs in training are generally not covered under ADA protections. Employers have discretion regarding access for dogs in training.
- Employers are not required to provide staff to walk or care for Service Dogs. The handler is responsible for the care and supervision of their Service Dog.
- Allergies or fear of dogs are generally insufficient reasons to deny access to Service Dogs under the ADA. Exceptions may be made in rare cases where allergies rise to the level of disability.
Best Practices for Employers
To ensure federal compliance while supporting employees with Service Dogs, employers should:
- Educate staff on appropriate interactions with Service Dogs.
- Designate relief areas for employee's Service Dogs to use.
- Make minor adjustments to accommodate dogs, like designating dog-friendly meeting rooms.
- Ensure the workplace is accessible for service dog mobility and safety.
How To Obtain a Service Dog
Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities (ECAD) breeds Service Dogs and trains them as puppies. By the time they’re nine months, they know several commands. They then undergo extensive training for 18 to 24 months before being matched with someone.
Each person's final training is individualized once a potential match has been identified. When a client arrives for team training, the dog has had up to 1,500 hours of training and socialization. If you or a loved one could benefit from a Service Dog, contact Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities to learn more or apply for a Service Dog.