Does it violate the ADA if an employer denies an employee’s request to bring a support animal to the office?
A recent court case addressed that very question.
Nicholas Conlan worked as a marketer for Costco in Montana. He traveled often for his job, and requested to bring his dog with him. Conlan had anxiety attacks and migraines, and he claimed he’d trained his dog to recognize the signs of an attack and to alert others to get help.
Costco asked Conlan to get a note from his doctor, but when he did, the doctor referred to the animal as a “companion dog,” not a service dog.
Conlan began bringing his dog to work before receiving permission to do so. His employer questioned the severity of his anxiety, since Conlan had no work restrictions, and ultimately denied his request. Conlan sued for an ADA violation.
But a court agreed with the company. It said Conlan’s anxiety wasn’t covered by the ADA because he had no work restrictions and his own doctor didn’t classify the dog as a service animal.
In this case, the employer wasn’t required to allow emotional support animals at work, the court said.
Cite: Conlan v. Costco Wholesale Corp, 6/9/21.