If a California employee requests to bring an assistive animal to work as a reasonable accommodation, what should the employer do?

Author: Melissa Burdorf, XpertHR Legal Editor

A California employer should:

  • Request a letter from the employee's health care provider (which includes clinical social workers, therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, acupuncturists and chiropractors) confirming the existence of a disability and explaining why the animal is needed in the workplace to allow the employee to perform his or her essential job functions; and
  • Request a signed statement from an animal trainer or the employee that the animal:
    • Is well-behaved and does not endanger the health or safety of the individual with a disability or others in the workplace;
    • Performs the tasks it was trained to do to assist the employee with a disability; and
    • Is free from offensive odors and displays habits appropriate for the workplace (e.g., toilet trained).

An employer may challenge that an assistive animal meets these standards within the first two weeks the animal is in the workplace based on objective proof of offensive or disruptive behavior. An employer may require an annual recertification from the employee of the continued need for the assistive animal.