Use of a Service Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation in Washington
Q: My new receptionist showed up today for her first day of work with her 150 pound Golden Retriever and said I had to allow her to keep it at work because it helped her deal with her anxiety. Do I have to allow this?
A: You might. The use of a service animal by an employee at work is protected by the Washington Law Against Discrimination as an accommodation of the employee’s disability. The animal must be trained so that it is not a disruption in the workplace, and the animal’s presence must improve the employee’s ability to do his or her job. This is not a “bring your pets to work” policy—it is a case-by-case evaluation of a situation, intended to accommodate a disabled employee, allowing the completion of essential job functions. Each situation will be different, so be sure to contact your Vigilant staff representative for help with this and other disability accommodation situations.