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ADA requires accommodation of customers with service dogs

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Under the ADA, customers or employees may bring service animals with them to work or to a public place like a restaurant or a store. Smart employers make sure employees know their obligations and treat the animal and its owner appropriately.

Recent case: Cheryl had been disabled for a long time and had frequented the same restaurant for over 20 years. She spent most of her day there, eating breakfast, socializing with other customers and waiters and leaving after lunch.

Then she got a service dog. When she began bringing the dog to the restaurant, some of the customers stopped spending time with Cheryl. A waiter who had previously joined her for lunch no longer did.

She sued, alleging that the restaurant discriminated against her and the dog.

The court tossed out her case. It said that it was clear the service animal was allowed in the restaurant and everyone served her as before. They just weren’t as friendly as they had been before. Since the ADA doesn’t require civility, that wasn’t enough for a lawsuit. (Krist v. Kolombo’s Restaurant, No. 11-1263, 2nd Cir., 2012)

Final note: What should you tell employees about service animals? Merely that the law says they are allowed on the premises and that no one should be turned away. Of course, if the service animal doesn’t behave appropriately, that’s another matter. Tell employees to check with management for possible solutions.

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