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Animals in the Workplace C. W. Von Bergen & Martin S. Bressler Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Animals in the Workplace C. W. Von Bergen & Martin S. Bressler Southeastern Oklahoma State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Animals in the Workplace C. W. Von Bergen & Martin S. Bressler Southeastern Oklahoma State University

2 Increased Importance of Taking Animals Everywhere—Including Work American’s emphasis on their rights Changing attitudes toward animals Increasing numbers of people with mental illness A nation of scammers (?)

3 Americans Have Rights, Right? “They all go about with their constitution in their pockets demanding their rights.” —Manuel de Mier y Terán Mexican General, 1828

4 A Paradigmatic Shift in Attitudes and Behavior Toward Animals

5 Many Couples Signing ‘Pup Nups’ To Prevent Future Legal Battles By Kathryn Hauser, WBZ-TV, Boston, November 24, 2014

6 Mental Illness by the Numbers Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.7 million, or 18.6%— experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 20 adults in the U.S.—13.6 million, or 4.1%— experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder in a given year. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%. 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and specific phobias. Among the 20.7 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 40.7%—8.4 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness. DSM-5 (2013) has broadened the tent so that more people are included

7 A Nation of Scammers, Connivers, Cheats, and Law Benders?

8 A Nation of Scammers, Connivers Cheats, and Law Benders? Underage drinkers who flash fake I.D.s Able-bodied adults who drive cars with handicapped license plates Parents who use a phony address so that their child can attend a more desirable public school or play sports for a certain school Customers with 30 items who stand in the express lane dedicated to those having 10 or fewer items Unfit for work: the startling rise of disability in America Pet owners who want to take their animals everywhere

9 Animals in Various Entities Towns and Communities Colleges and Universities Airlines Housing – Apartments – Dorm rooms – Condominium and Home Owner Associations Workplaces

10 Pal Joey (Irwin): Oklahoma Woman, Kangaroo Pet Find New Home at Zoo Christie Carr won the right to keep and live with a ‘therapy kangaroo’ (Irwin) in an exotic enclosure after city officials in Wynnewood, OK initially objected. Carr said the kangaroo has helped her battle her depression. 1.1442863 1.1442863

11 Christie and Irwin



14 Woman Kicked Off Flight After Pet Pot-Bellied Pig ESA Stinks Up Plane

15 ESAs in "No Pet" Housing University housing – Apartments – Dorm rooms Apartment residences Condominium and HOAs

16 A Muddled and Uncoordinated Taxonomy of Animals companion animals comfort animals emotional assistance animals visitation animals therapy animals support animal social/therapy animals assistive animals public service animals assistance animals psychiatric service animals seeing-eye dog, guide dog, hearing dog, mobility assistance dog, seizure- alert dog, …… yada, yada, yada pets service animals emotional support animals (ESAs)

17 Bringing Animals to Entities with “No Pets” Policies Service Animals — any guide dog, signal dog, or other dog (an exception for miniature horses) trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, interrupting self-mutilation, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items; not required to be registered or wear a special tag or vest; no definition of amount or type of work provided Pets— the affectionate term for animals kept for pleasure, comfort, love, and friendship; sometimes called “household pets” Emotional Support Animal (ESA) —a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit through non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life to an individual with a verifiable mental or psychiatric disability (generally a letter from a mental health provider); its mere presence provides a disability-related benefit, but it has not been trained to perform specific tasks or work for an individual

18 Service Animal

19 Pets

20 Emotional Support Animals (ESAs)

21 ESAs help people with mental illnesses in many ways. For example, ESAs may alleviate psychiatric symptoms by calming the handler and reducing physical and mental effects such as anxiety, fear, flashbacks, hypervigilance, hallucinations, intrusive imagery, nightmares, muscle tension, trembling, nausea and memory loss.

22 Animal Accommodation Spectrum Pets---------------------ESAs-------------------Service Animals

23 February 25, 2015, San Antonio, TX Service animals, yes; emotional support animals, no A monkey bit a bank employee. The owner claimed the monkey, Louis, was a service animal for an unspecified disability. Only dogs in public places (ADA-Title III). Owner fined and monkey removed.


25 The Problem? ESAs ESAs are rife for exploitation from some individuals who may not have a legitimate need for mental or emotional support, but rather are simply looking for a legal loophole to keep a pet with them. Entities are being presented letters from mental health providers claiming that an ESA is necessary for the mental or emotional health of the person. The problem (is it a problem?) is that some of these letters can be easily obtained, regardless of whether a true disability exists. Some entities, on the other hand, see pet welcoming policies as a competitive advantage – Eckerd College sees this as a way to enhance enrollment – Many high tech firms see this as a way to attract quality job candidates

26 Key Laws—Context Matters Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and its Amendments (Titles I, II, III; increased emphasis on mental disabilities) – I—employment-related entities; employees and job applicants – II—state and local government entities (including colleges) – III—public places such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, doctors’ offices, hospitals, retail stores, libraries, etc. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973— covers federal government facilities, activities, and programs, and entities that receive federal funding from discriminating against disabled persons (e.g., universities) Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988— dwellings, apartments, condominiums, and HOAs Air Carrier Access Act of 1986— air transportation State regulations – e.g., California Fair Employment and Housing Act (2012) requires employers to allow “assistive animals” as a necessary reasonable accommodation which includes animals of any species that provide “emotional or other support” to a person with a disability

27 Disability and the ADA Under the ADA, disability means: A physical or mental impairment (increased emphasis these days) that – (a) substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual; (b) a record of such an impairment; or (c) being regarded as having such an impairment – Substantially limits a major life activity shall not be interpreted strictly to create a demanding standard for disability; that’s why Congress developed the ADAAA in 2008 A mental impairment includes any mental or psychological disorder such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities, as well as psychological disorders or emotional or mental illnesses including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders (including PTSD), schizophrenia, personality disorders, and other similar conditions identified in the DSM-5 which significantly limits one or more major life activities

28 Who Identifies A Disability? Under a new California law, the following individuals are considered “health care providers”: acupuncturists, podiatrists, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, nurse midwives, PAs, physicians, psychiatric social workers, etc. Or you can spend $164 over the Internet to obtain a letter from Chilhowee Psychological Services. Simply answer a few questions, and out pops a letter.



31 ESA Paraphernalia Online

32 Reasonable Accommodation An employee’s rights under Title I of the ADA arise only as a matter of reasonable accommodation. This includes modifications or adjustments that enable employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their job. However, an employer is not required to provide a “reasonable accommodation” if it can establish that to do so would be an undue hardship or be a direct threat to the safety of the employee or others. For an employee/job applicant requesting reasonable accommodation for an ESA a firm – may require the applicant or employee to provide medical papers confirming a disability and the need for an accommodation – the necessity for the emotional support the animal provides in dealing with the disability (the nexus between the animal and the disability must be made) – employers are prohibited from inquiring about the underlying medical cause of the disability

33 Reasonable Accommodation A reasonable accommodation is any change in the workplace that enables a qualified individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. So long as the requested accommodation does not constitute an undue financial or administrative burden or hardship for the entity, or fundamentally alter the nature of the entity, it must provide the accommodation. Several courts have already explicitly stated that an exception to a “no pets” policy is a reasonable accommodation

34 Standard for an Undue Hardship Is High: Generally Not Be Supported at Court pets creating allergic reactions among co-workers which can cause interruptions to their ability to work effectively work is disrupted because of the need to take pets outside some employees have a genuine fear of dogs, cats, etc., which needs to be respected there are concerns of liability for an organization should an employee be bitten or injured by a pet brought to work an animal cannot be permitted because it violates local/state health standards employee complaints alone will not likely constitute an undue hardship




38 Increased Importance of Animals Western society is experiencing a paradigm shift in attitudes and behavior toward animals Many people today feel their pet is a member of the family Why such change? – Affluence – Increased emphasis on mental illness/disorders – Increased numbers having mental illness (DSM-5) – Breakdown in relationships resulting in a greater dependence on pets for companionship and social support – Greater understanding of the health benefits associated with human- animal bonds – PETA Resulting in – Increase spending on pet products and veterinary services – Pet cemeteries – Pet behavioral training and therapy – Prenuptial (e.g., “prepups”) agreements for pets are gaining popularity – Welfare concerns for animals (farmed animals; elephants in circuses)

39 Animal Accommodations Physical Disability The needs of a blind person to have a Seeing Eye dog. These types of accommodations must almost always be made and entities have limited recourse to ask questions about the disability or the animal’s qualifications to serve as a service animal. Legitimate physically disabled persons with the need for service animals are not the issue in question. Mental Disability It is a question of a mental/emotional disability that is now the basis for an alleged need to keep an animal at the entity’s location. Several federal laws (and sometimes city and state laws) require entities to make reasonable accommodations to assist disabled people in that entity. Based on these laws, individuals have sought the right to keep animals to assist them with their emotional and/or mental problems claiming that these animals are ESAs and not just pets.


41 You Could Register a Beanie Baby, as Long as You Send Money

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