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Can employees bring service animals to the office?

Many people love their animals and view them as part of the family. They feed them, wash them and offer support for their furry friend. However, some people consider their dog as a necessary companion, especially in the case of a service dog.

Service animals offer an essential job to people with disabilities. And many of those people need their animal to properly navigate the office or assist them in performing daily tasks. That’s why New York law supports the use of service animals in the workplace.

The rights to a furry companion the workplace

According to the New York City Bar, employers may not discriminate against a qualified employee or prospective employee with a disability accompanied by a guide, hearing or service dog – or any certified service animals. However, there are limitations for hiring if a person’s disability prevents the person from performing the particular position.

A disabled worker has the right to bring their service animal into the workplace and have them in their immediate custody at all times. The New York statue also clearly states that if accommodations are needed, the person with a disability should be a priority.

An example includes if another worker has a dog allergy, the employer should accommodate the person with the allergy instead of the person with the service dog. However, it’s up to the employer’s discretion on how to adequately accommodate all employees.

Does this include emotional support or comfort animals?

A unique aspect of New York is the broad definition of a disability. Unlike Federal laws, New York sees depression and other mental ailments as potential disabilities. Some healthcare professionals recommend an emotional support animal to manage a person’s depression or anxiety. Does it mean emotional support animals are eligible for the workplace?

The short answer is no. Under Federal and New York law, emotional support animals are not required for accommodations the same way a service animal is. It’s mostly due to the extensive training service animals receive to be certified. Luckily, people with mental ailments may be eligible for a certified service animal depending on a doctor’s recommendations.

No one deserves to be mistreated at work due to their disability or use of a service dog or animal. Consider filing a claim with your human resources department or with the state of New York if your employer is mistreating you due to your disability.

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