Job Interview With Service Dog – When To Introduce Your Animal

Published Categorized as Service Dogs
Job Interview With Service Dog

Letting Employers Know About Your Service Animal

During the hiring process, you may be wondering.. when is a good time to let your organization know about your service dog? Before you get hired? Or, should you wait until after you are hired, and then make a reasonable accommodation request?

It really depends, and it’s a personal choice. If you tell them in the initial interview(s), it’s possible the company may revoke their offer and discriminate. This is unfortunately hard to prove if you haven’t finished paperwork. If you wait until after you are hired, you’ll need to request accommodation through Human Resources, and this can sometimes take time. You won’t be allowed to take your service dog to work until the request is approved.

Approvals Must Be Timely – EEOC

These types of approvals must be done on a timely basis, as per the EEOC, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If your request for reasonable accommodation to bring your service dog to work with you isn’t complete within a timely manner, then you may need to file an EEOC complaint.

Best Case Scenario

Of course, the best case scenario for this situation would be if the company or employer completes hiring and paperwork, and grants your request for reasonable accommodation to keep your service dog at work, hassle free.

Is it Appropriate to Bring Your Service Dog to a Job Interview?

Wondering about just bringing your service dog to a job interview with you? Sure, you can use the technique of letting them know after you are hired. However, some people prefer to simply find out if a company will be discriminatory in the beginning.

Some people would simply rather not work for a discriminatory or unwelcoming work place/employer. That’s not a great feeling to go to work everyday feeling like you are walking – or wheeling – on egg shells. In that case, you certainly can bring your service dog to your job interview, even though that may be stressful.

Make Your Service Dog a Resume?

Just an idea. Considering that many people are still not too educated about the complex world of service dogs, one idea is to make your service dog a resume. This way, a potential employer will be able to easily see some information about your dog’s job, and just a bit about him/her. This just might be an easier method when compared to trying to verbally explain everything.

What Are the Actual Laws about Bringing a Service Dog to a Job Interview?

Service Dog PROS and CONS
Service Dog PROS and CONS

It depends on whether the interview is part of a public event, (like a job fair), or a private one, (like an interview in the employer’s place of business.) Why does it matter?

It matters because there are different rules and laws under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Different rules regarding service animals in public places versus employment situations and locations.

Job Fairs with Service Dogs

Public job fairs are most often covered by title II of the ADA (which is state and local government) or title III (which is public accommodations) of the ADA. It will depend on who sponsors the fair.  

Fairs are usually open to anyone who wants to attend. Therefore, they are considered public. Under titles II and III of the ADA, people with disabilities who go to a public job fair, do have the right to bring service animals with them according to Department of Justice guidelines.

Private Job Interviews with Service Dogs

For private, one on one type of job interviews, Title I (employment) of the ADA applies. This is true if the employer has at least 15 employees.

Under Title I, people with disabilities don’t automatically have a right to bring a service animal to a job interview. Bringing an animal into an employer’s place of business is a form of reasonable accommodation. In other words, the applicant needs to ask to bring the service animal to the interview and the employer must consider the request. This is all according to JAN, the Job Accommodation Network.

When Could Service Dogs Be Refused from an Employment Situation?

Under the ADA, service dogs are considered a job accommodation. An employer can refuse the service dog if it would place an undue burden on the business.

Examples:

  • In a job with specific personal protective equipment you had to wear to be safe (example: biohazard lab with respiratory gear), the service dog may represent an undue hardship
  • If someone in the office or employment environment is allergic to dogs, then it can possibly be argued that the dog might present an issue for other employees in the environment

From a Business Perspective

  • It’s nice when employers are given an opportunity to prepare for a service dog coming into the environment, and not be surprised by someone suddenly needing an accommodation directly after being hired
  • They may like to move people with allergies, set up a location for you near an exit for potty breaks with the pup, etc.
  • Interviewers will appreciate if you let them know before the interview, in case someone in the interview room (or the interviewer) has as dog allergy, so they can prepare
  • Letting them know ahead of time will make you seem like you will come off as concerned and considerate of you colleagues
  • Transparency always works out the best from this perspective, because even if the job doesn’t work out, everybody can surely appreciate saved time, money, and energy

Conclusion

It’s understandable that many people would worry about the right thing to do – bring their service dog to a job interview or not – especially people who desperately need to secure a job, and who are worried about discrimination, but also about having enough money in the bank.

Unfortunately, discrimination is a real thing, and even though discrimination is not allowed, it still happens, often when an employer might give a fake alternative reason for not hiring someone (such as, “Your skills and education are just not a good fit for our organization,” or something like that; when really, they just don’t want to deal with a service dog and or/ a person with a service dog.)

Personally, I would lean towards more of the side of being honest and transparent, because I would not want to work for a workplace that discriminated or treated people unfairly. It can be tricky to navigate this hugely important area of life, but, when you think about it, an employer is some place where you will likely spend many hours, even if it’s just part time.

And so, making sure your employer is understanding and accommodating towards you and your service dog is obviously important. You may need to be willing to let go of seemingly good opportunities that just aren’t going to have a good vibe, if that’s what’s important to you.

However, hopefully things can go seamlessly and you will be able to get your dream job, or at least something that you need or want for the time being.

By Sam Nelson

Sam is an experienced writer, advocate for people with disabilities and mental health, dog lover, artist, philosopher, and generally complicated human being.

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