Don't HR Alone #42 - Service Animals, and Medical Marijuana Terminations

Service Dog

Question: Our employee is a military veteran and was approved by his doctor to have a service dog with him at all times. He performs pest control for restaurants, and we are concerned the dog will not be allowed in the restaurants. Do we have to accommodate this request? Answer:

Yes, you would need to accommodate the request for your employee to have a service dog with him at work. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits restaurants from excluding service dogs from their premises. Therefore, if your employee enters a restaurant or other food service location, the service dog must be permitted entrance as well. The ADA also states that service dogs may not be prohibited from communal food preparation areas.

Individuals with disabilities may not be refused access to a facility based on having a service dog and/or based on the breed of dog. Service dogs may be of any breed. The ADA provides an example of when a service dog may be off leash, which may be applicable to your scenario:

“The service animal must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered while in public places unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the person’s disability prevents use of these devices. In that case, the person must use voice, signal, or other effective means to maintain control of the animal. For example, a returning veteran who has PTSD and has great difficulty entering unfamiliar spaces may have a dog that is trained to enter a space, check to see that no threats are there, and come back and signal that it is safe to enter. The dog must be off leash to do its job, but may be leashed at other times.”

Denying the use of the service dog would be difficult to defend and the accommodation of the use of the service dog should be permitted. You may need to explain to your clients that one of your techs will have a service dog with him, and that the dog must be allowed on premises; however, be sure to not disclose any type of medical or protected information regarding your employee.