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Employers should treat an employee’s request for a service animal as a reasonable accommodation for a disability like any other accommodation request, no matter what type of animal is under consideration, Peter Petesch, a shareholder with Littler told Bloomberg Law May 3.
The definition of “service animal” is fuzzy under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and can include a variety of species and a variety of tasks, including providing emotional support, Petesch said.
Despite Petesch’s advice to keep an open mind, the risk of fraudulent service animals is real, and poses a problem to both the legitimate service animals and to their owners, said Wallis Brozman, National Corporate Marketing Assistant at Canine Companions for Independence. Another person’s fraudulent service animal, who might not be trained to handle specific situations and interactions, could end up attacking and intimidating legitimate service animals like Brozman’s dog, Mork. That puts the legitimate service animals and their owners in danger and affects their ability to work and complete other day-to-day tasks, she said.
Petesch, Brozman, and Mork spoke with Bloomberg Law at Littler’s Executive Employer Conference in Phoenix.
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