Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Maloney O'Laughlin PLLC fights for employees throughout Washington, from Seattle to Spokane.

Service animals in the workplace

On Behalf of | Feb 21, 2024 | Disability Discrimination And Accommodation

In today’s workforce, inclusivity and accommodation for individuals with disabilities are paramount. One significant aspect of this reality is the facilitation of service animals by employees with disabilities who need this kind of help.

Service animals can provide individuals with disabilities with increased independence and confidence in performing their job duties. By assisting with tasks that would otherwise be challenging or impossible, service animals empower employees to participate even more in the workforce.

Types of service animals

There are various types of service animals, each trained to assist with different disabilities. Guide dogs, often used by individuals with visual impairments, assist their owners in navigating obstacles and safely traversing their environment.

Hearing dogs are trained to alert individuals who are hard of hearing to important sounds such as alarms, doorbells or approaching vehicles.

Mobility assistance dogs aid individuals with mobility impairments by retrieving objects, opening doors and providing stability while walking.

Lastly, medical alert dogs are trained to detect changes in their owner’s body chemistry, such as blood sugar levels or impending seizures, and alert them or others to take necessary action.

Legal provisions for service animals

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has illegalized discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment. Under the ADA, employers are mandated to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, including allowing the use of service animals in the workplace.

Employees who are differently abled have the right to request reasonable accommodations, including the use of a service animal, to perform essential job functions. Therefore, workplaces are mandated to engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine the most suitable accommodation.

Service animals play a vital role in enabling employees who are differently abled to better participate in the workforce. By understanding the legal provisions for service animals, employees with disabilities can advocate for reasonable accommodations at their places of work.