When we wrote on April 15th about the opticians who fired an employee rather than accommodate her request to have a service dog at work for her anxiety condition (and settled an EEOC suit for $53,000), we did not foresee an issue with animal allergies that might arise in other employees, and other folks.
What happens when rights are in conflict when it comes to employment discrimination ?
Some readers decided to weigh in.
Lisa Bossard Funk, a lawyer in the Tucson, Arizona area, wrote that: “What about customers, patients, and fellow employees who have animal allergies and are adversely affected by the introduction of animals into a workplace? How is the employer to balance these concerns? I don’t think this is or should be a simple, bright-line test.”
Anne L. Peterson, an HR expert in Story City, Iowa agreed: “Of course the next problem for the clinic will be the other employees and patients who are allergic to the service animal.”
Michelle Dacey, an HR expert in the Washington, DC area concluded that:
“It appears to be a no win situation for employers and businesses. Even the EEOC’s guidance is pretty wishy washy when it comes to allergies and other issues related to the animal being present. The EEOC suggests moving the allergic one away from the animal when possible. How about when it isn’t possible?
I foresee problems when the presence of the animal causes an ADA situation for another employee and the only accommodation is to ban the animal, which you can not do.”
This is just the beginning of the discussion. Any other thoughts or comments?