Happy Take Your Dog to Work Day!
A few months ago I broached the subject of the National Take Your Dog to Work Day with our Office Administrator, sort of feeling the waters if she thought our Office Managing Partner could be persuaded. I made an impassioned plea that my dog would be a very good dog in the office. I even sent her an adorable photo, see Exhibit A:
Our Office Administrator’s response: What about people with allergies?
She had a good point. It did not seem worth it to try to figure out how to accommodate those with allergies simply because I would like to have my dog at work.
Her comment got me thinking about what happens when employees’ disabilities collide. For example, one employee needs a service dog and another employee is deathly allergic to dogs.
How does an employer accommodate both or can an employer accommodate both? Does the service dog trump the allergy because employers are required to permit access to service dogs under Title III of the ADA separate and apart from their obligation to accommodate employees?
I managed to give myself a headache thinking about this. This question does not have an easy answer. However, under the revised ADA regulations and recent case law, employers need to be more creative than ever when thinking about what accommodations can be done, such as flex time so the employees are not in the office at the same, in addition to the usual solution which might be physically locating the employees’ work spaces far away from each other.
As usual, when in doubt considering accommodation requests, it is wise for managers to consult human resources and/or legal counsel.