ANIMALS IN THE WORKPLACE: NEW ACCOMMODATION FOR EMPLOYEES WITH DISABILITIES
In 2013, there was an amendment to the disability regulations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) that introduced assistive animals as a reasonable accommodation for employees and applicants with disabilities. Cal. Code Regs. 11065(a)(n)(1), (p)(2)(B).
Specifically, “assisted animals” is defined “a trained animal, including a trained dog, necessary as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability.” Further, an assistive animal can be a guide’s dog trained to guide a blind or visually impaired person, a signal dog or other animal trained to alert a deaf or hearing impaired person to sounds, or a service dog or other animal individually trained to the requirements of a person with a disability.
The regulations further requires that the assistive animal be “free from offensive odors and displays habits appropriate to the work environment. Further, the animal must “not engage in behavior that endangers the health or safety of the individual with a disability or others in the workplace.” Finally, it must be “trained to provide assistance for the employee’s disability.”
The purposes of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act’s (FEHA) disability protections are to ensure that an “individual’s employment opportunities are commensurate with his or her disabilities” as well as “to ensure discrimination-free access to employment opportunities.”
While accommodation should be construed broadly in favor of disabled parties, employers are not required to accommodate any animal that is requested by an employee with a disability. An employer is required to “engage in a good faith interactive process to identify and implement the employee’s request for reasonable accommodation.”
This requires “timely, good faith communication between the employer… and the application or employee… to explore whether or not the applicant or employee needs reasonable accommodation… and if so, how the person can be reasonably accommodated.” An employer must respond to an accommodation request within 10 days of receiving notice.”
The Law Offices of Payab & Associates is a Los Angeles based law firm with more than 17 years of experience in employment cases. Our office has successfully litigated many complex disputes including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, wage and labor disputes, and retaliation cases.
Are you or anyone you know been harassed, discriminated or retaliated at work? Contact the Law Offices of Payab & Associates @ (818) 918-5522 or visit http://payablaw.com/ if you have any questions regarding your rights at the workplace.