May an employee working in California bring a hamster to work if the employee claims the hamster provides emotional support for his or her mental condition, depression?

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

It depends. A California employer must comply with the disability discrimination and accommodation regulations, which, among other things, expand and elaborate on the Fair Employment and Housing Act's definition of reasonable accommodation. This definition was expanded to include assistive animals, such as support animals (e.g., a dog or other animal that provides emotional or other support) that can assist an employee who has depression or a traumatic brain injury, for example.

The regulations do not provide an employer with guidance on what type of animal or what type of support is necessary in order for the support animal to be necessary as a reasonable accommodation. However, employers should engage in the interactive process to determine if it is reasonable accommodation.