Volume 02 Issue 01
Service Animals and Allergies in the Workplace
Employers may be 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. The following is a summary of accommodations that might meet the needs of both employees:
1. Eliminate in-person contact:
- Have the employees work in different areas of the building.
- Establish different paths of travel for each employee.
- Arrange for alternatives to in-person communication, such as e-mail, telephone, teleconferencing, and videoconferencing.
- Allow flexible scheduling so the employees do not work at the same time.
- Allow one of the employees to work at home or to move to another location.
2. Minimize exposure if in-person contact cannot be eliminated:
- Provide one of the employees a private/enclosed workspace.
- Use a portable air purifier at each workstation.
- Develop a plan between the employees so they are not using common areas, such as the break room and restroom, at the same time.
- Ask the employee who uses a service animal if he/she is willing to use dander care products on the animal regularly. Most veterinarians and local pet supply stores carry such products.
- Ask the employee who uses the service animal if he/she is willing to temporarily use other accommodations to replace the functions performed by the service animal during meetings attended by both employees.
- Ask the employee who is allergic to the service animal if he/she wants to, and would benefit from, wearing an allergen/nuisance mask. Many local home improvement or hardware stores carry such masks.
- Have the work area, including carpets, cubicle walls, and window treatments cleaned, dusted, and vacuumed regularly.
- Add HEPA filters to the existing ventilation system.
- Allow the employee who has allergies to take periodic rest breaks to go outside, take medication, or to go to the doctor if needed.