February 2, 2018

Service Animals in the Workplace

by Brittany Pace, Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP

Employees are typically entitled to use their service animal at work if necessary to perform their job. This is a right available under Title I of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). While the ADA applies to employers with 15 or more employees, the ORC applies to employers with 4 or more employees.

A service animal is a dog or miniature horse (yes, you read that right) specifically trained to work or perform tasks on behalf of an individual with a disability and whose work or task is directly related to a disability.

To bring your service animal to work, you should notify your employer in writing that you have a disability and need a service animal to perform your job. This is considered a request for a “reasonable accommodation.” An employer can refuse the accommodation if the service animal’s presence interferes with a legitimate safety requirement of the business, if the request is unreasonable or if the request would impose an undue hardship on business operations. An employer can also refuse the accommodation for a miniature horse if the business cannot accommodate the horse based on its size.

If you are an individual with a service animal and your employer has refused to reasonably accommodate your needs, or you are an employer who has an employee seeking a reasonable accommodation for their service animal, you may wish to talk to an attorney to determine your rights.