Guide Dogs in the Workplace

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to all private employers with 15 or more employees as well as to state and local government employers. The Rehabilitation Act provides similar protections for federal employment. In addition, most state laws  prohibit employment discrimination and may provide protections greater than or in addition to those available under Federal laws.

When an employee requests to use a guide dog as a reasonable accommodation in the work place, the employer has the right to request documentation or demonstration of the need for the dog, that the dog is trained, and that the dog will not disrupt the workplace. (The Seeing Eye will readily provide its graduates with the appropriate documentation upon request.) However, employers cannot require proof that a service animal has received health vaccinations or treatment for worms or fleas if there is no indication that any problems exist with the dog’s health.

The employee is responsible for the care and supervision of the guide dog including making sure the animal is not disruptive, keeping it clean and free of parasites, and taking it out to relieve itself as needed.

Check out The Seeing Eye’s tips for guide dogs in the workplace

Guide dogs should be included in workplace emergency preparedness plans. There may also be times when employers are faced with difficult issues when the accommodation needs of one employee interfere with the accommodation needs of another employee. One such situation occurs when an employee is allergic to a service animal used by another employee. Check out these accommodation ideas for allergies in the workplace

For free one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and service animals, contact The Job Accommodation Network at (800) 526- 7234. Employees who believe that they have been discriminated against at work because of their disability can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or with their state's Fair Employment Practices Agency.