In a recent interview with SHRM, Peter Spanos provided insight into a recent lawsuit denying an employee’s request to bring her dog to the workplace.
According to a lawsuit filed by the EEOC on June 30, 2022, a part-time clerk at a Hobby Lobby store advised her manager that she needed to bring her fully trained service dog to work to alleviate her symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. The company denied the request citing safety concerns because a colleague or customer might be allergic to the dog or trip over it, or because the animal might break something.
Service animals help individuals with disabilities live and work independently. While requests for accommodation via emotional support animals were once rare, they have become increasingly common according to Spanos.
Spanos went on to explain that the lack of clear guidance and precedents, as well as the open-ended nature of obligations under Title I of the ADA, make the employers' task of evaluating and responding to such requests difficult.
"In many cases of accommodations for disabilities, the employer must thoroughly investigate the nature and reasons for the preferred accommodation and the question of undue hardship," Spanos said. "Extensive discussion and possibly expert advice may be necessary to fully resolve accommodation issues."
To read the full article, please click here.