Standing Strong For Employee Rights

Does the ADA cover emotional support animals?

| Mar 4, 2020 | Firm News |

If you are living with a disability and attempting to hold down steady employment, it is very important to understand the nature of the protections offered to you through the Americans with Disabilities Act. This act, commonly known as the ADA, lays out a variety of different protections for persons who need additional accommodation due to a variety of disabilities. Many disabilities require the use of service animals, and service animals often are allowed to accompany their owners in places where regular pets are not authorized to go. However, according to the ADA National Network, emotional support animals are not covered under the ADA. 

Service animals are covered under Title II and Title III of the ADA. The very definition of a service animal is that it provides the assistance necessary to do specific tasks. These tasks may be of a psychiatric, sensory, physical, or intellectual nature, depending on the specific disabilities of the person in question. For an animal to be covered by Titles II and III, a service animal must be directly supporting the person in question with the disability in a physical manner.

Emotional support animals are not covered by these titles. This is because the work done by service animals has to be directly related to the disability in question. Emotional service animals may pay a very important part in therapy for certain individuals, but this is not considered legally on the same level as a seeing eye dog assisting a person who is legally blind.

Keep in mind that having a note from a doctor does not turn an emotional support animal into a service animal. Workplaces are not required to allow emotional support animals on their premises the way they would be required to accommodate a service animal.