Service Animals as a Reasonable Accommodation

I have had a number of job losses because I have been unable to utilize my
service animal. I work at an urgent care at the moment and have requested to use
him being as I have already missed a large amount of work d/t complications from
my disability that would be avoidable with him. They have stated that they do
not allow service animals of any sort to be in the clinics. I know as a patient,
unless it is a burn unit, ICU, NICU, or other sterile environment where street
clothing is not allowed, that I am allowed to be accompanied by my service
animal. According to the ADA the only time an accommodation is unreasonable here
in Colorado, is if it causes undue hardship. I don’t see any reason it would be
undue hardship given that it costs them nothing extra and they don’t need to
allow for anything different. Can you help me understand my rights and whether
they’re legitimately being impeded when it comes to employment?

Asked on December 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

It is also an unreasonable hardship if:
1) It may be disruptive to their business--such as if patients would not want to go to a care facility with an animal in it, due to, for example, cleanliness concerns. If having a service animal could cost them business, that is unreasonable.
2) It would also be unreasonable if it would cause potentally any violations of relevant health or hygiene codes applicable to an urgent care facility, which may not allow animal waste (and as a pet owner, I know that even the best-trained animals sometimes have accidents) or animal hair around.
3) And it would be unreasonable if it increases any chance of infection, e.g. from animal waste in open wounds--they don't have to accept a higher risk of liability.
As an employee who would be there for extensive periods of time, your situation is not parallel to that of a walk-in patient; an employee having an animal in a care facility imposes a greater burden on the employer. It is likely legal for them to deny this; you may have to work in a different, non-health-care context if you want/need your service animal with you.


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