Q. Our owner brings her dog to work every day. We have a new employee that just found out—due to health-related issues—that she is allergic to the dog. The owner said she won’t terminate the employee, but the employee needs to decide whether she wants to stay or not, because the dog is not going anywhere. Please advise. — Angela, North Carolina
A. An increasing number of employers allow employees to bring (well-behaved) pets to work and the popular press suggests that doing so can lead to reduced stress and increased well-being for employees. That’s not true, of course, for employees who happen to be allergic to the pet in question.
I can’t tell from your post whether the employee suffers so severely that her allergy could be considered a disability. If so, then she may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation of that condition. That doesn’t necessarily mean the owner must leave the dog at home. Reasonable accommodations could include providing a work area in which the dog does not enter or an air filtration device to minimize pet dander. Or you could permit the employee to work from home or allow some other accommodation.
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