HR Home Forums Answer for Pets in the Workplace policy in Ontario and allergy accommodations. Whose need wins?

Conner Lantz
Post count: 4836

Wow, there’s a lot going on here.
First, you recognize that accommodating disabilities may require exemptions from a no-pets policy. Starting point is that employee must actually have a disability. You have the right to request documentation confirming the disability, e.g., a doctor’s note.
Next comes the question of the dog. The AODA applies to a guide dog or “service animal” and person requesting accommodation must provide a letter from a qualified “regulated health professional” confirming the animal is a service animal. But Ontario human rights law is much broader and applies to a “guide dog or OTHER ANIMAL.” No confirmation required. So if your employees can document their disabilities, they may be entitled to bring their dogs even if they’re not certified service animals.
Now comes the tricky part. Accommodations must be reasonable and not impose undue hardship. And Employee A’s reasonable accommodation may be allergic Employee B’s hardship. In this situation, you can’t pick sides. Instead, you have to BALANCE the needs of both the individuals involved, e.g., let A have the dog but require her to stay X distance from Employee B.
Couple of final points: 1. Employees without disabilities don’t get to bring their pets just because a disabled co-worker can; and 2. The fact that “everybody will want to bring their dog to work” is NOT undue hardship justifying refusal to accommodate a guide dog or service animal.
Hope you got all that. Good luck and feel free to follow up. Glenn