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Service Animals: Friends at Work

Over the past few years, service animals have become a popular topic, especially when it comes to bringing them places like grocery stores and airplanes. But what about their place in the workplace? Did you know that every year on June 26th, Americans celebrate “Take Your Dog to Work Day”? It’s a fun day, for sure, but it also raises an important question: what about bringing service animals to work on all the other days of the year?

What Are Service Animals?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) helps us understand what a service animal is. It says a service animal is a dog that has special training to help someone with a disability. This disability could be related to their body, how they sense things, their mind, or their emotions. Service animals are not just any pets; they have a very important job to do for their owners.

To make sure a service animal is the real deal, it needs to be licensed. This means there’s official paperwork proving the animal’s training and the owner’s need for their help. If someone tries to pass off a regular pet as a service animal without this proof, they could be fined up to $75,000 for their first mistake!

Service Animals at Work

When talking about service animals in the workplace, it’s not always straightforward. Some coworkers might be allergic to dogs or have other concerns. But don’t worry; there are ways to make sure everyone is comfortable:

  • Move desks around so people can work in different spots.
  • Make new paths so people don’t have to walk close to the service animal if they’re allergic.
  • Bring in air purifiers to help with allergies.
  • Let people work from home if needed.
  • Offer flexible schedules.
  • Clean the office more deeply and often.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s a person’s right to bring their service animal to work if they need to. This helps them do their job just like everyone else.

Before You Decide

If you’re thinking about service animals in your workplace, there are a couple of steps to take first:

  1. Talk to your human resources department. They know a lot about the rules and how to make sure everyone feels okay with the plan.
  2. It might also be a good idea to talk to a lawyer. They can give advice on the legal side of things to make sure everything is done right.

Service animals do a lot of good for their owners. By understanding and supporting their role in the workplace, we can create a friendly and inclusive environment for everyone. Remember, it’s all about working together and finding solutions that help everyone feel comfortable and productive.

J. Horowitz
J. Horowitz

J. Horowitz leverages over two decades of experience as a seasoned employment law attorney in Arizona to offer insightful freelance writing on the same subject. After a successful career advocating for fairness and justice in the workplace, J. now dedicates his expertise to writing comprehensive articles, blog posts, and thought leadership pieces that illuminate the complexities of employment law.